Ponds, ditches, marshes and other wet habitats have great amenity and wildlife value, but have becoming increasingly threatened in urban areas. Ditches, streams and even rivers in urban areas have been piped or canalised. Ponds have been filled in and marshes drained for urban development. Any project that conserves or creates wetland habitats in urban areas is helping to replace some of the areas that have been lost. In our increasingly dry climate, the need to conserve such places and to slow the flow of water off the land is becoming increasingly important.
Ponds, streams and wetlands have value for the following:
- many types of wildlife, including amphibians, invertebrates, birds, mammals and plants
- amenity and education. Ponds in particular have great attraction for children, and are excellent for developing an interest in wildlife.
- as ‘open spaces’, that are semi-natural and undeveloped. Because of their inaccessibility, wetlands are mainly protected from human disturbance.
- wetlands are important as filters against pollution, and for absorption of runoff and flood waters. Wetlands act as a natural flood defence, and as giant ‘sponges’ that absorb water and let it slowly seep into the subsoil.
- ‘buffer zones’ in urban areas may be better than those in intensively farmed landscapes, so pond creation projects in towns can become very valuable wildlife habitats.