Hart District Council’s Countryside Service has secured over £100,000 from the Rural Payments Agency, in partnership with Natural England, to support significant improvements for wildlife at Fleet Pond.
The Countryside Service, which operates in partnership with organisations such as the Fleet Pond Society, has worked hard to create more favourable conditions for wildlife at Hampshire's largest freshwater lake. However, the team continues to strive for further improvements.
Hart District Council’s Biodiversity Officer, Mike Barry, said: “With the current biodiversity crisis both in the UK and globally, we were pleased to secure this funding which has allowed us to start a new phase of improvements at Fleet Pond. This includes new techniques such as floating island bio-havens for wetland fowl to avoid disturbance and installing wooden debris reefs for fish and invertebrates to flourish. We can continue to enhance Fleet Pond’s ability to support a range of wildlife through the improvement of its habitats, which will also support the site’s resilience.”
Work will also include the clearance of hard-to-reach scrubland areas and the addition of marshland scrapes. The removal of scrub build-up will increase water retention within the marshes, allowing some of the site’s reedbeds to reconnect, and means more light will be able to reach the water.
Open pools of water will be created, benefiting a wide range of species such as the little egret, emperor dragonfly, common toad and marsh pennywort. Scrapes will also create important areas of bare ground, helping nesting birds.
Additional waterlilies and reed plugs will be planted, improving the overall diversity and abundance of aquatic plants in the pond. Waterlilies were once common on the site and will be reintroduced using cuttings from the nearby Little Pond. The bogbean plant is also being introduced to help reduce the effect of geese grazing on the fresh aquatic plant growth, allowing quicker, more successful plant establishment.
This work programme has been developed along with Fleet Pond Society, who will also be carrying out an extensive programme of conservation tasks developed with Hart Countryside Service. This will run through autumn and winter up to the breeding season in spring. Volunteers who’d like to help should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
These works started at the beginning of November and due to the remote locations of them there will be minimal disruption to the public. However, site users may notice contractors using the newly-installed boat slipway to support the lake enhancements in January. For further information about this project visit hart.gov.uk/fleet-pond-nature-reserve-sssi.