In the past century, Britain — one of the most nature-depleted countries in Europe — has lost more than three quarters of its wetlands. That’s a huge amount of life-supporting space gone.
But what can we, as Londoners, do about this? While you might be thinking that you don’t have space for a pond in your backyard or on your balcony, when it comes to water, size doesn’t matter. Creating even the smallest wetland will boost biodiversity and, because wetlands support so many species, there will always be something new to observe. They are proven to soothe you and boost your mood, too.
Naturalist, broadcaster and Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) ambassador Lucy Lapwing says the mini wetland she built last year is already working wonders.
“We’ve had visitors including frogs, damselflies, whirligig beetles and water boatmen all in an old washing up bowl buried in the garden.” It was created on a low budget, too. “In the bowl is a layer of gravel, then some larger rocks that create a slope at the edge so things can get in and out, and a couple of native pond plants. In total it didn’t cost me more than £20.”
Your mini wetland could be a barrel, or you can dig a tiny pond at ground level. Here are tips to keep in mind.
Always make sure there is a way for wildlife to get in and out. Think of it as a little slipway for frogs. Position rocks, sticks or logs running from the edge of the water to the ground.
If possible, use rainwater to fill and refill your mini wetland. Tap water can encourage algae to grow. However, if rainwater isn’t an option, leave tap water to stand for a couple of days before using it, so the chlorine escapes.
When it comes to pond plants, some tropical and subtropical species can cause problems in the wild. It’s best to pick plants that are labelled as native, as our wildlife is familiar with them.
If you want to learn more about how to create your own mini wetland, you can download the WWT’s handy guide at www.wwt.org.uk/wetlands-can/mini-wetlands.