Habitat Action Plan: Ponds

By | August 7, 2008
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1 Current status
1.1 National
Ponds were originally included in the NM BAP as a ‘local’ habitat, but the 2007
national priority list review added Ponds as a full UK BAP priority habitat.
UK BAP Priority Habitat ponds are defined as permanent and seasonal standing water
bodies up to 2ha in extent which meet one or more of the following criteria:

Habitats of high conservation importance. Ponds that meet criteria under
Annex 1 of the Habitats Directive.

  • Ponds supporting Red Data Book species, BAP species, species fully protected
    under the Wildlife and Countryside Act Schedule 5 and 8, Habitats Directive
    Annex II species, one Nationally Scarce wetland plant species, or three
    Nationally Scarce aquatic invertebrate species.
  • Ponds supporting exceptional populations or numbers of key species. Based
    on (i) criteria specified in guidelines for the selection of biological SSSIs
    (currently amphibians and dragonflies only), and (ii) exceptionally rich sites
    for plants or invertebrates (i.e. supporting 30 wetland plant species or 50
    aquatic macroinvertebrate species).
  • Ponds of high ecological quality: Ponds classified in the top PSYM1 category
    (“high”) for ecological quality (i.e. having a PSYM score 75)
  • Other important ponds: Individual ponds or groups of ponds with a limited
    geographic distribution recognised as important because of their age, rarity of
    type or landscape context e.g. pingos, duneslack ponds, machair ponds.

With respect to this local HAP, all ponds are covered, regardless of the above criteria.
However it is useful to identify the high status ponds in the area to help prioritise
action. Ponds and other standing open waters are usually classified according to their
nutrient status. There are three main types: nutrient-poor (oligotrophic); nutrient-rich
(eutrophic) and intermediate (mesotrophic). Gradations between these main types
Identifying ponds from habitat inventories can be problematic because they are often
dealt with under broader categories e,g. in Phase 1 they are usually recorded as G1
Standing Water (along with other types of water body) and in the NVC they can be
recorded variously as aquatic, swamp & fen communities, OV28-OV35 and others.
1 PSYM is the Predictive SYstem for Multimetrics model used to get an ecological quality assessment
of a pond.

1.2 Local
From work by the NM BAP manager, based OS data in 2007, there are estimated to
be 2069 ponds in North Merseyside, which break down by area as follows:

  • St Helens 876 ponds.
  • Sefton 501 ponds.
  • Knowsley 456 ponds.
  • Liverpool 236 ponds.

In general most ponds and standing open waters in North Merseyside are small and
tend toward being nutrient-rich. Many ponds were made for agricultural use. Some
are several hundred years old and are of considerable antiquity in parts of Knowsley
and St Helens, also potentially in Liverpool and Sefton. Ponds were also created for
industrial use or as a consequence of mining.