Project information

Protecting flagship ponds in England and Wales

‘Flagship’ ponds are the most important ponds for wildlife - exceptionally rich in biodiversity, or supporting the most endangered species. Only about 500-1000 flagship ponds exist in the whole of the UK; this project will ensure that the species they contain will survive into the future.

January 2015 - December 2016

Charity information: Freshwater Habitats Trust

Freshwater Habitats Trust logo
  • Need


    Ponds are substantially threatened: around 80% of ponds in England and Wales are degraded by pollution, drainage and lack of management. For flagship ponds, which support some of the UK’s rarest species, including Mud Snail, Starfruit, Tassel Stonewort and Natterjack Toad, these factors can have a catastrophic effect on freshwater biodiversity. Since some rare freshwater species exist in only a few locations in the UK, some plants and animals can even disappear from the landscape completely.


    The Flagship Pond Project will train local groups in the pond ecology, management, and surveying of flagship ponds in the UK. With each pond cared for on a continual basis by a dedicated group of pond wardens, the project will ensure that rare species, or rich assemblages of species, are monitored and protected. Knowledge of freshwater plants and animals will be greatly increased, with freshwater experts supporting people across the country to conserve iconic species in their own localities.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Enhance the most important ponds for biodiversity to conserve freshwater species


    » Set up 100 pond warden groups at 100 flagship sites in England and Wales
    » Train groups in ecological surveying and management
    » Draw up management plans for protection of key endangered species

    What success will look like

    Management plans written for 100 sites, and populations of key species increased at each site

    Aim 2

    Increase habitat for key species living in flagship ponds


    » Create at least 50 new clean water ponds in vicinity of flagship ponds as additional habitat

    What success will look like

    Evidence of colonisation to new areas by key species

    Aim 3

    Increase knowledge of local people of pond ecology and management


    » Regional project officers to run bi-monthly training sessions for local volunteers
    » Host open days, including Bioblitzes and walks and talks, at selected flagship sites to showcase freshwater biodiversity

    What success will look like

    24 training sessions held per year (6 sessions for each of the 4 project areas in England and Wales) and 12 open days per year (3 for each project area)

  • Impact


    Flagship pond sites that are currently neglected or poorly managed will be brought into effective management, and the declines of freshwater species will be reversed. Through the input of freshwater experts and the setting up of community groups, knowledge of freshwater ecology will be vastly increased, so that the care for local freshwater resources will be sustained into the future. Success will be demonstrated by the longevity of local groups and increases in populations of key species.


    Working with a variety of different landowners and land managers of the flagship sites carries some risk, as there can be changes in land use or ownership. Biodiversity benefits could be lost or working relationship could be disrupted. We are addressing this risk by drawing up 10-year management agreements for each site that permit access to the flagship ponds by project staff and volunteers, and allow for habitat and species management.


    We will provide annual reports to donors that include progress reports on the work to date and details on income and expenditure.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £71,500

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      Amount Heading Description
      £46,000 Staff costs Salary costs for 5 project officers responsible for training and management
      £20,000 Pond management Hire of machinery for vegetation management, dredging, or deepening
      £5,500 Volunteer training Venue, equipment, website and material costs for 24 training sessions
  • Background


    The 100 flagship pond sites are located in 4 regions of England and Wales and will be managed by 4 regional project officers. The flagship sites range from heathland pools in the Lizard, Cornwall, to moorland ponds in Cumbria, and are owned by a variety of landowners, including the National Trust, Wildlife Trusts, local authorities, Defence Infrastructure Organisation, and RSPB.


    The environment will be the biggest beneficiary of this project, with iconic freshwater sites being conserved. Flagship ponds that will be protected include special pond types with a unique flora and fauna attached to them, such as dune slack ponds or glacial ponds in East Anglia, as well as other species-rich ponds. Volunteers who receive training and who participate in the protection of these ponds will also benefit from increased knowledge and skills in conservation management.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    In the course of the National Pond Survey, part of the Countryside Survey 2007 sponsored by Defra, Freshwater Habitats Trust was able to identify almost 100 flagship ponds in the UK, and has since identified about 70 more. The charity possesses the ecological expertise to provide advice and training for the optimal management of these ponds, having 7 experienced ecologists among its staff and having carried out both freshwater research and practical projects over the past 25 years.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Senior Ecologist

    This staff member has many years' experience managing research projects in freshwater biology, and implementing practical conservation projects.

Oxbow diving beetle, endangered species

Oxbow diving beetle, endangered species