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Project information

Million Ponds Project

The aim of the project is to reverse the decline in the number and quality of ponds in the UK that has occurred in the past century in order to create good quality habitat for wildlife. Phase 2 of the Million Ponds Project (2012-20) will put freshwater in the countryside by digging 30,000 new ponds

April 2012 - April 2016

Charity information: Freshwater Habitats Trust

Freshwater Habitats Trust logo
  • Need


    There has been a startling loss of biodiversity in freshwater bodies over the past century, which has occurred as a result of factors such as pollution (industrial run-off from roads and factories, and agricultural run-off from pesticides and herbicides), and the altering of natural river courses through canalisation.


    Pond have small catchment areas; it is therefore possible to instantly create new clean ponds with semi-natural catchments in parts of Britain, even in intensively managed agricultural landscapes. Ponds are exceptionally important for biodiversity: they support populations of two-thirds of the UK’s freshwater species, including at least 50 BAP species.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To create 30,000 countryside ponds during 2012 - 2020, with 4,000 ponds specifically for BAP species


    » Ponds will be created in clean catchment areas such as woodland, heathland, grassland and marsh to provide habitat for freshwater species.

    What success will look like

    Success will be measured by the increase in high quality freshwater habitat available, and an increase in rare species such as tassel stonewort and the one-grooved diving beetle.

    Aim 2

    We will train 1000 key staff and volunteers to locate, design, create, & manage ponds for wildlife.


    » Training sessions will be held on-site and in training centres by our freshwater ecologists.

    What success will look like

    Success will be measured by the no. of people trained and the increase in skill level of staff and volunteers, and % increase in projects designed to provide freshwater habitat.

    Aim 3

    We will publicise learning on the project to the conservation sector and wider public.


    » Training courses and materials, including species dossiers and on-line recording forms, will be developed to advise on pond creation and management

    What success will look like

    Success will be measured by the no. of supporters recruited through publicity materials and events, and the no. of people engaging through print and web-based networks.

  • Impact


    In the long-term, networks of habitats will be created to allow freshwater species to spread out across the landscape, and, for the very endangered species to avoid extinction (e.g. the glutinous snail was declared extinct in England in 2010). The quality of freshwater in the wider landscape will be greatly enhanced and a increased number of people will be aware of, and implement, measures that can prevent the degradation of all freshwater habitats.


    Climate change is one of the main risks for this project. In preparation, we have designed ponds to provide a variety of habitats for a range of species, and will strategically locate them as 'stepping stones' in the landscape to allow species to colonise new areas. Another risk is the lack of general knowledge about the importance of clean water. To address this lack, we will work in partnership with other organisations such as wildlife trusts and local councils, as well as involve the public


    Donors will be provided with annual reports of the project's progress, as well as full charity accounts.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £130,500

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      Amount Heading Description
      £110,000 Pond digging for 200 ponds Costs include digger, driver and dumper hire; planning permission, fencing, scrub removal, etc.
      £13,000 Training courses Hold 50 training courses for conservation staff and volunteers
      £7,500 Training materials Produce 150 training packs on pond creation and management

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Anonymous £2,500 Conditional
  • Background


    Ponds will be created in clean catchment areas all over England and Wales. We will concentrate on areas that lie within the 'Important Areas for Ponds' - i.e. where there are a number of 'Priority Ponds' that contain specific BAP species or important assemblages of plant and animal species. By prioritising national high quality areas that have suffered the worst declines, we will conserve freshwater species that are most at risk.


    Freshwater wildlife will be the main beneficiaries of the project, as well as other species associated with ponds, such as farmland birds, bats, otters, and water voles.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Freshwater Habitats Trust has recognised scientific expertise in freshwater ecology, with several freshwater ecologists amongst its staff. We carried out Defra's Pond Countryside Survey in 2007, and successfully lobbied for high quality ponds to be included as Priority Habitats under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. We will build on our experience of the first stage of the project (2009-12), which created 5000 ponds in conjunction with major landowners such as the National Trust and RSPB.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Dr Pascale Nicolet

    Senior Freshwater Ecologist and Co-ordinator of Project.