Ghost ponds reclamation brings new life

Researchers from UCL in London are making excellent use of former ponds on agricultural land.

“Ghost ponds” are ponds that were filled with soil while still wet, back in the 19th and 20th centuries. They are usually visible on the surface as damp areas, irregularities, and areas of poor crop growth. This blog explains how to find them.

After researchers dug out several “ghost ponds” they found and then grew the dormant seeds of common acquatic plants. In the future they hope to discover and germinate the seeds of extinct or rare species.

There are more than half a million ghost ponds in England. Seeds can remain dormant yet healthy for hundreds of years. It looks likely that in a field out there somewhere, extinct plants are waiting to come back to life.

In addition to looking for seeds, the ghost pond experts have been restoring ponds. In doing so, they have created habitats for hundreds of tiny creatures. (Read about the restoration of Frog ghost on this page.) Ponds are a biodiversity hotspot for acquatic life.

Buried ponds are common in Europe and North America. Hopefully the English findings will inspire conservationists outside the UK.

Visit the UCL Pond Restoration Group webpage to find out more.

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