Gospel Oak springs to life with new community wildlife pond and wildflower bed

This weekend, members of the London-based freshwater conservation charity Freshwater Life Project came together with local people and community organizations in Camden’s Gospel Oak to build a community wildlife pond with a wildflower bed with the aim of making a small contribution toward improving biodiversity in the city, and to serve as both a feature for the local community as well as a tool for education.

The teams at Cooperation Town and Refugee Community Kitchen, two community-led organisations working to help make food available to struggling families, invited Freshwater Life Project to build their wildlife pond and wildflower bed with help of local volunteers, to complement their community space where they already host a weekly food-growing and gardening initiative led by local people. Increasingly, local food growing and gardening groups are understanding the important role native biodiversity plays in pollination and the crucial role waterbodies play in forming a foundation for these complex food webs and wider ecosystems.

How it started…

After some initial clearing, the proposed space for the community wildlife pond and wildflower bed looked pretty promising (scroll down to see how it turned out!)

How does a wildlife pond differ from a regular pond?

Wildlife ponds are designed from the very beginning to include, and provide resources for native British wildlife, and that includes all of the plants! So, whilst you won’t find any koi carp or goldfish in this pond, over a relatively short amount of time, sometimes even within days, you will observe a range of local wildlife, including many species of invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, and birds, dropping by to drink, bathe, and even feed on the plants and other aquatic and semi-aquatic life that will establish itself. At another recent pond build location over in neighbouring Kentish Town, shortly after the pond installation, Freshwater Life Project team members were alerted by a local community member to a grey wagtail bird that had begun using their pond each day. Grey wagtails are a red-listed bird, meaning they are at risk of extirpation in the UK, and so this was a big deal for the community there, and a testament to improving the interconnectivity of ponds, and wetland-type habitats across the UK’s cities.

Helping native British species thrive.

As part of our goal to support freshwater ecosystems and preserve the native biodiversity that depends on them, we always opt to use only British plant species in our UK-based wildlife pond builds, no matter how tempting it can be to use some of the incredibly beautiful, but also very ecologically functional non-natives. We also choose species which are best suited to the specific conditions where we build, and those which are within their natural geographic range.  This way, we can ensure that we are not impacting our native ecosystems in ways which could interfere with natural processes.

It takes a village…

This particular wildlife pond and wildflower bed were made possible by funding from the Arnold Clark Community Fund, a generous price concession from Wildwoods Aquatics, donations of wildflower plants, and plug plants from Alfie Bines Gardens, donations of native British plants, and seeds from Naturekind®, and the support of local volunteers who made the digging and clearing processes a great deal easier! Thank you to all who helped to make this project come to life. If you’d like to say up to date with what we do then subscribe to our newsletter on our homepage, and if you would like to learn more about how you could be involved in a similar project find out “how to help“.

The final outcome!