What do I need to bring if I am volunteering at a pond restoration?
Volunteering at a pond restoration event typically involves dragging a lot of brash and bramble! At the start of each session we provide a tool talk for volunteers for the bowsaws and loppers that we typically use. We also talk through the plan for that specific pond. We provide builders gloves to protect your hands from thorns but it is often useful to bring your own gardening or builders gloves that are chosen to fit you! Other items that are essential to bring are:
- Clothes – please wear suitable clothes for the weather that you do not mind getting dirty. Layers are useful as you will get warm doing the restoration and cool off during breaks. Cheap over-trousers and jackets are useful for keeping the mud off the layers underneath
- Sturdy boots – the farmland ground undulates and we are often walking into dry ponds so it is important to wear sturdy boots or wellingtons. Wellingtons will give you more access to damper areas but boots will protect your ankles better
- A hat – not essential, but a hat will help to protect your head from the weather (sun and rain!) as well as keep off any bramble which tends to get stuck in long hair!
- Water – you can never have enough water on a pond restoration: it really is thirsty work! It is worth bringing a litre of water with you for the day
- Food – we take regular breaks throughout the day and all volunteers are encouraged to work at their own pace, stopping for food, water and rest whenever you need it
- Other essentials – we are typically out all day in the middle of a field, therefore items such as suncream and anti-bacterial hand gel to sanitise your hands before eating are both useful.
- Tools – if you have them and wish to bring your own tools that you are familiar with using (loppers, bowsaws etc.) this really helps make sure that everyone has a tool to use
What does a pond restoration entail?
Depending on the size of a pond, and the number of volunteers, we typically complete one pond restoration each day. Following the tool talk around 9am we work solidly during the morning, removing the willow scrub and bramble from a large proportion of the pond circumference so that the digger has access to larger stumps and the pond basin. If we have our chainsaw contractors with us, the work tends to involve more dragging of material into piles but if not there is sawing and lopping to do. After a couple of hours more work following lunch, all the scrub is removed and it is the perfect time to take a step back and watch our digger driver, perform his magic from a safe distance! There are log-piles (hibernacula) to erect to provide shelter for amphibians and we always like to leave each pond as tidy as possible therefore we typically finish around 5pm.
How do I know if I should restore my pond?
Ponds at early or mid-late successional stages can be incredibly valuable for wildlife without restoring them. It is only as the ponds really get overgrown so no light can get in and the water dries up that they are ready for restoration. Even then, the ponds still have a value. That is why, when there are a large number of ponds in a landscape, we always advocate leaving some at a late successional stage and restoring just one or two at a time. This way the creatures in the landscape can find the perfect home just right for them!
Our Pond Restoration Guidance booklet explains how to chose the most appropriate pond for restoration and good restoration principles.