Dew pond restoration
Young people volunteering through Seed4Success have been helping test the viability of restoring Dew Ponds within the Landscape Partnership Scheme area, within the Chalke Valley.
This pilot was kindly supported by funding from Cranborne Chase Landscape Trust, who with growing donations hope to support even more of these sort of activities into the future.
Over 20 young people have been involved planning the work, spreading and pounding chalk to provide a suitable base for the restoration. Straw and a small layer of clay are likely to be added in the spring to help capture water from run off and draw it from the damp misty air on cold mornings. It’s very old technology, but can be highly effective.
For centuries Dew Ponds were an essential feature of our Chalk Downland slopes, providing an important source of water for grazing away from the valley floor.
Most of these were managed by a team of Dew Pond builders who were active throughout South Wiltshire.
Maintenance of these features waned from the 1920’s onwards as mains water was introduced to feed drinking troughs throughout the downs.
Historically these Dew ponds were important landscape features, teaming with life and greatly adding to the biodiversity and viability of many species nearer the top of the downs. They are also very aesthetically appealing swarming with dragonflies, visited by many mammals and birds in the early part of the breeding season (instead of trekking or flying down to the river), often a couple of miles (or more) in a return journey.
Under the Landscape Partnership Scheme we’d like to restore features such as Dew Ponds in the landscape, for their heritage interest, aesthetic appeal of walkers and others using the Droves along the top of our Chalk Downs and to increase and support wildlife to thrive again on the higher slopes of our majestic landscape.
When we have demonstrated the right technique and a cost-effective approach to restoring these features we would hope that many of these features may be refurbished for people and nature to enjoy throughout the area.