Introducing Our Guest Writer
Meet Féidhlim Harty, a Pond Advisor on the Farm Carbon EIP programme, as well as the director of FH Wetland Systems, an esteemed environmental consultancy. Féidhlim is also an accomplished author, with his latest book titled Towards Zero Waste – How to Live a Circular Life. Explore his insights and expertise in this engaging blog as we delve into the captivating realm of biodiversity revival through integrating ponds in farming landscapes. Learn more about Féidhlim and his impactful contributions at www.wetlandsystems.ie.
The Appeal of Integrating Ponds
One of the immensely satisfying aspects of the Farm Carbon EIP work is forging connections with the local farming community. As pond advisor to the project I have had the pleasure of working with land owners who remember wilder spaces on their farms, with more wildlife than exists today and who want to recreate space for species to return. Some remember owls, some frogs, others the fish they used to catch in the rivers. For each absent species their new farm pond is part of the solution to their return.
Ponds are magnets for biodiversity, a community food hub to which all manner of insects, birds, mammals and amphibians gravitate. Ponds, despite looking like isolated units within the landscape, are actually part of a web of interconnections across both space and time. Within the land they provide a stopping off point for birds to drink, insects to feed, bats to patrol at night, mammals to visit. They are part of a network of interconnection that is invisible to us in our ordinary day-to-day world, a biodiversity highway navigated by air, land and water.
Without suitable stopping points such as ponds, some species leave an area altogether and ultimately if their preferred habitat is eroded to a critical point, become extinct. Thus the reintroduction of ponds begins the process of biodiversity highway maintenance; of landscape repair and regeneration for wildlife.
Ponds as Bridges Connecting Past and Future Ecosystems
Ponds are not just a stopping point on journeys across the landscape, they are also vital stopping points across time. New ponds on farms reach back through time to take the hand of wildlife of the past, helping it step across the gap of many decades of habitat removal and into a new future. Recent reforms to CAP have already paved the way for reducing the pressure on habitats. Future changes are likely to herald greater rewards for farmers to provide and reinstate habitat spaces rather than remove them, which has been the dominant focus of CAP over the years. The almost sole emphasis on food production was understandable and valuable, but limited in scope.
The Multifaceted Value of Ponds and Wetlands in Modern Landscapes
The changes to our society’s attitudes to wild, wet, watery spaces are well overdue. Ponds and wetland habitats generally offer a whole array of benefits to people as well as wildlife: flood control, water filtration, carbon sequestration, climate regulation, a cultural and historical archive. There are more novel uses also, such as using bulrush as insulation board or food crops such as watercress.
They also provide an oft overlooked attribute. They are beautiful. Their still water or rippling surfaces, the movement of the wind in the reeds, the song of a willow warbler, or the electric blue dart of a kingfisher delight us in a deeply satisfying way. These moments in nature are recognised increasingly as valuable for mental health and wellbeing.
So if you don’t have a farm pond already, be sure to contact Farm Carbon for helpful pointers and advice. Let one small damp corner go wild for wildlife and enjoy nature do its thing, one pond at a time.
Féidhlim Harty is pond advisor on the Farm Carbon EIP programme; director of FH Wetland Systems environmental consultancy; and author. His most recent book is Towards Zero Waste – How to Live a Circular Life and you can find out more at www.wetlandsystems.ie.