Inner City Pond Project

The Aim:

To work with local authorities, other organisations, and local communities on new and existing projects to improve the quality and quantity of freshwater habitats available for British wildlife in order to support declining populations (especially threatened species), provide access to natural places for communities, and to help promote improved mental wellbeing through a closer connection to nature.

The Objectives:

Provide wildlife-centric spaces with freshwater habitat in built-up areas of UK cities, and enhance existing natural spaces to be more habitable for British wildlife, especially threatened and priority species.

Many green spaces within cities in the UK do not fulfill their potential for hosting and promoting biodiversity, this is especially true in urban environments. Many have the capacity to be wildlife havens, including for species at risk or listed as priorities for conservation, while still playing a functional role for communities. In cooperation with local authorities and other organisations, and with the support and involvement of local people, we will facilitate the design and creation of wildlife areas with freshwater components, as well as the improvement of existing green spaces to help local boroughs provide ecologically functional, enriching spaces for communities.

Make wildlife-centric areas accessible and educational for people of all backgrounds, ages, orientations, and abilities.

Wildlife and natural areas can be so enriching for us as humans and should play an important part in our lives. As part of this project, we will integrate freshwater habitats in spaces within urban communities, to allow people of all kinds to appreciate and learn about their local wildlife. Freshwater ecosystems are the foundation of all terrestrial, semi, and sub-aquatic biodiversity, and creating them is the fastest way to restore it. We will create and enhance spaces helping local communities to be actively involved in preserving their local wildlife and habitats. We will ensure our initiatives provide opportunities for education through local school and volunteer programmes, and improved mental health through ecotherapy and access to natural spaces, especially to less engaged communities.

Support local authorities to achieve social and environmental targets

As part of the UK Government’s 2020 strategy for biodiversity, DEFRA aims to halt overall biodiversity loss, support healthy well-functioning ecosystems and establish coherent ecological networks, with more and better places for nature for the benefit of wildlife and people.¹ In conjunction with the 2020 mission for habitats and ecosystems on land (including freshwater environments), Outcome 1C of this strategy stipulates that by 2020, at least 17% of land and inland water, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, will be conserved through effective, integrated and joined-up approaches to safeguard biodiversity and ecosystem services, including through management of our existing systems of protected areas and the establishment of nature improvement areas.¹ With this in mind, this project will allow local authorities to provide nature improvement areas as part of local planning in a way that is cohesive alongside sustainable development, and provides measurable results through robust scientific reporting and ongoing monitoring with additional community benefits in education and mental health.

Why is this Important?

The United Kingdom’s 6th National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity identifies key areas where there is significant work to be done:

  • Reducing the current rate of species decline
  • Increasing the quality of existing wildlife habitat
  • Continuing to identify introduction pathways, and reduce the prevalence of invasive species
  • Increasing funding for biodiversity conservation

The benefits of wildlife habitat and natural places to human physical wellbeing and mental health are widely documented and understood. With freshwater ecosystems underpinning the rapid enrichment of biodiversity, it can be considered the foundation of any plan to restore nature in places already depleted or lacking in biodiversity.

Conclusion

  • We want to work with local authorities, other NGOs, community groups, schools, and passionate individuals to create and connect a vast network of wildlife havens across the UK.
  • We want to help achieve environmental and social targets with measurable results at the local and national levels
  • We want financial support to cover the costs of creating, restoring, and/or rehabilitating wildlife havens in urban settings

References

  1. DEFRA Biodiversity 2020: A strategy for England’s wildlife and ecosystem services
    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69446/pb13583-biodiversity-strategy-2020-111111.pdf
  2. MIND 2018: How can nature benefit my mental health?
    https://www.mind.org.uk/media-a/2931/nature-and-mental-health-2018.pdf
  3. United Kingdom’s 6th National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity 2019
    https://jncc.gov.uk/our-work/united-kingdom-s-6th-national-report-to-the-convention-on-biological-diversity/

by

Chris is an aquatic researcher and naturalist primarily interested in freshwater teleosts, crustacea and macrophytes. A specialist in fish nutrition, his background includes the establishment of his own business where he develops specially formulated feeds for ornamental & farmed fish and other aquatic species closely based on their natural diets. His personal research includes the freshwater and coastal habitats on the island of Cyprus and the ecological impacts of unsustainable practices occurring in the Amazon and Orinoco basins; he is also an avid collector and cultivator of rare and endangered rainforest plants.