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This project aims to increase biodiversity in and around the pond and restore areas where the banks have been eroded.
A pond in good health is an incredibly rich and varied habitat for wildlife. When the environmental conditions are right, an array of different plant species grow in abundance, creating a spectrum of aquatic zones in which a myriad of different creatures manage to find the right kinds of spaces to flourish. Unfortunately, the Heath Pond is poor in biodiversity and a mono-culture is developing.
The work of this project includes:
- Renewal and restoration of eroded banks
- Planting of over 1,000 suitable native bank-side plants
- Three peninsula fishing swims
- Coppicing of bank-side willow trees and other trees which excessively shade the pond
- Creation of new two islands, using dredged material and planted with native marginal species
- Pond bed reprofiled in certain areas to create a mosaic of marginal habitat
- Planting in three locations of Phragmites australis to create additional reed-beds
- Replacement boardwalk which is wider, with handrails and passing place
The requirements for the work was first identified in the early 2000s, however planning did not begin in earnest until 2015. Once areas or work had been identified with key stakeholders high level proposals were prepared.
A Public Consultation was held, including boards displayed around the Heath. A range of views and an overall positive feedback was received in response to these proposals.
In 2019 Petersfield Town Council held a tendering exercise and received 8 bids to design and deliver the project. Four bids were shortlisted an each made a presentation to members of the Grounds Committee and Officers of Council.
On the 19th September 2019 Petersfield Town Council awarded the contract for the project to Five Rivers Environmental Contracting Ltd
It is hoped that the work will commence in the Autumn of this year, with planting work happening during late Spring 2020.
Project Delivery Timeline
Work is due to commence on site in late January 2020 and expected to take 12 weeks to complete. During this time some areas on the edge of the pond will be closed to public access. It is not anticipated the actual path around the pond will be closed except for short periods when machinery is being moved around.
Prior to January a number of surveys and investigation works will be taking place and these are listed below:
17/10/2019 – Topographic Survey Completed Topography is the study of the shape and features of land surfaces
22/10/2019 – Bathymetric Survey Commences
Bathymetry is the study of underwater depth of lake or ocean floors. In other words, bathymetry is the underwater equivalent to hypsometry or topography.
29/11/2019 – Amphibious Excavation
An amphibious excavator is a type of excavator that can perform dredging while afloat in shallow water. This work has allowed the team to understand more about the make up of the silt at the bottom of the pond.
12/12/2019 – Fish Survey
A 2 day survey took place. This involved using a combination of seine netting and electric fishing.
The seine netting of 100 x 4 metre was deployed from a boat and used for sampling in the deeper areas of the pond. Electric fishing was used in the shallower areas and around the island. The data collected allows for an understanding of species assemblage and stocking density.
Frequently Asked Questions
How are the enhancements going to help prevent blue/green algae?
The lake enhancements will help prevent another algae bloom by improving water quality. The reed beds will take up nutrients from surface run-off/pollution and dredging will help reduce the amount of nutrients available from the sediment, therefore reducing nuisance algae blooms.
Why do we need more islands?
Primarily to break up wave action created by prevailing wind from South West of the island, which will help protect the bank from further erosion. The islands will also provide nesting habitat for birds.
Will the work disrupt nesting birds?
The law states that nesting bird season runs between March and August. We will have completed all the tree work before birds begin to nest and we will have the islands and a lot of the cells constructed by then. Any additional work left will be bank work, the boardwalk/ fishing swim installation and will not disrupt nesting birds. The additional islands and planting will provide more habitat for nesting birds once established. Five Rivers are a specialist environmental contractor and the protection of wildlife is their priority, along with health and safety. Any existing features that are remotely suitable for nesting (e.g. reed-beds) will be checked prior to starting work and if birds are nesting we will avoid them completely as is our obligation by law.
Will the works stop the water seepage that occurs during our now long, hot, and rainless summers?
Seasonal water level fluctuations are natural and we are unable to prevent this unfortunately. However, the work we are undertaking will help improve water quality, create deeper pools for fish, and the native plants we will be planting will help prevent marginal areas from completely drying out in the summer.
How will the wildlife be protected as the work takes place?
Trees and reed-beds will be checked daily for nesting birds and other wildlife prior to starting work. The immediate works area will be bunded to prevent debris entering the lake and wildfowl entering the site. A silt trap will be erected around the outflow, and water chemistry will be monitored daily to ensure water quality remains within optimal limits.
Are we building a new boardwalk?
Yes! The old boardwalk will be removed and a new one will be installed away from the road. This will be compliant with the Equality Act 2010, which means that is accessible by wheelchairs. The boardwalk will be surrounded by reed-beds and have a viewing platform, handrails, and a non-slip surface.
When will the work be finished?
We are aiming to complete the work before Easter.
Why have you removed some of the trees?
Due to the public nature of the lake, health and safety is a priority and the trees must be managed to ensure they remain safe, but also provide habitat diversity for wildlife. The tree works are under a 5 year management plan that has been produced in consultation with a qualified arborist. Willows need to be coppiced along the bank, as they can become unstable as they get bigger, and they reduce the amount of light entering the pond margins. Some of the holly had been upheaved and required removing, and other areas were covered with dense thickets of rhododendron, which is a non-native invasive species. One of the added benefits of coppicing within a woodland is that it promotes biodiversity. The extra light reaching the forest floor encourages wildflowers and other plants. As a consequence coppiced woodland attracts butterflies and other pollinators. There will always be areas of coppice at different stages to provide habitat for a range of wildlife. We will be planting reed-beds and creating two new islands, which will be planted with trees and plants, providing habitat for wildlife.