The Norfolk Ponds Project

The Norfolk Ponds Project was formed in 2014, with the aim of promoting the conservation of Norfolk ponds, especially in farmland. It provides advice, supports pond restoration and organises site visits and open days. Their work is described in the following:

            Conserving Norfolk’s Ponds – Summary Leaflet

            Restoring Norfolk’s Ponds – Guidance booklet

            Local press article

            2 minute WWT film

Managing Britain’s ponds – conservation lessons from a Norfolk farm

Readable article published in 2013 in “British Wildlife” describing the conclusions from initial UCL research at Manor Farm Briston. It makes the case that in many ways pond conservation work is more valuable in farmland than in nature reserves.

A new role for pond management in farmland bird conservation

Research paper published in 2016 in “Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment” describing the value of ponds to birds based on research at Manor Farm Briston. In particular how reducing the shading increases the birds food supply from both plant seeds and the “chimney effect” of emerging aquatic invertebrates. Also how different groups of birds visit the ponds at different post-management stages emphasising the value of not managing all the ponds in one go each year.

Pond management enhances the local abundance and species richness of farmland bird communities

Research paper published in 2019 in “Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment” describing the value of managed ponds for increasing both the numbers of birds and the different types of birds found in farmland based on a year long study at Manor Farm Briston. The study also shows the importance of wide pond margins, brambles and habitat connectivity through the farmed landscape (eg hedges and woodland).

Buried alive: Aquatic plants survive in ‘ghost ponds’ under agricultural fields

Research paper published in 2017 in “Biological Conservation” describing how plant seeds can survive for up to at least 150 years in ponds which have been filled in and will rapidly recolonise when the pond is excavated. This offers the potential to re-establish populations of scarce or even locally extinct plant species. This research was not carried out at Manor Farm but inspired by it. They also made use of Dom Arnold’s skills – the digger operator that we also use!

Open‐canopy ponds benefit diurnal pollinator communities in an agricultural landscape: implications for farmland pond management

Research paper published in 2020 in “Insect Conservation and Diversity” describing the value of managed farmland ponds for daytime pollinating insects (particularly bees, wasps and hoverflies) based on research at Manor Farm Briston. The different micro-habitats and soil moisture around pond margins supports a wide range of pollinated flowers.

Nocturnal pollinators strongly contribute to pollen transport of wild flowers in an agricultural landscape

Research paper published in 2020 in “The Royal Society’s Biology Letters” describing the role of night-time moths around managed farmland ponds in complementing the pollination activities of more traditionally recognised daytime insects – based on research at Manor Farm Briston. This was also referred to in a BBC article.

UCL Pond Restoration Research Group

Based in the geography department of University College London, this group uses scientific research to underpin practical pond conservation and restoration action, especially in agricultural landscapes. Their research seeks to provide a scientifically-sound evidence base for UK pond conservation and restoration practices aimed at restoring lost and fragmented pond populations and communities. They have carried out a lot of research at Manor Farm Briston and the University brings MSc students up to the farm on field trips coordinated by Professor Carl Sayer.