Our projects

 

Waters Meet Wildlife Pond, Staffordshire – Pond Creation

 

The wonderful wildlife pond was created on a piece of unused land at the National Memorial Arboretum.

The spot, called Watersmeet, is at the junction of the rivers Trent and Thame. The area looks out over a Staffordshire Wildlife Trust wetland area and is rich in birdlife. The woods near to it provide a good margin habitat for birds and small mammals.

The pond is available to visitors and educational groups for pond dipping and enjoying the wildlife and plants that have made it their home. It is approximately 60mx20m and was constructed by ‘upgrading’ an existing pond that came and went depending on the weather. A heavy-duty clay liner was laid to ensure the new pond holds water throughout the year.

A deck area was constructed to allow for pond dipping. The edge of the pond was planted up with flowering wetland plants to encourage insects and enhance the area. Interpretation displays were installed to enable people to identify different species, and a fly-sheet shelter was erected to provide shade for an outdoor classroom.

The National Memorial Arboretum developed the project after a report developed for the Heritage Lottery Fund for the visitor centre highlighted the need for improved learning activities for schools and families.

Visiting groups had also commented to staff and volunteers about the need to improve the conservation landscape within the arboretum and to incorporate it into learning activities.

Discussions were held between the grounds team, education department and volunteer groups, with a mind to developing the Watersmeet area for visitors to the site. This work highlighted the need for improved conservation study areas and that Watersmeet was a suitable area for one to be in.

There were already existing picnic benches and a drying pond at the location. A site meeting of stakeholders from the Central Rivers Initiative pointed out that improved wildlife areas along the footpath would encourage more walking groups into the area, to use the Arboretum as a starting point for walking tours.

Responses to an online survey on the arboretum’s website indicated that interpretation and interactivity would be important to users. Another point was a need for more planting to improve the environment.

The arboretum team interviewed 15 people from the learning sector. Though most of the focus was on remembrance learning, nature activities were also mentioned as an area that needed developing.

The consultation and reports highlighted the following opportunities: The requirement for practical facilities for learning, including seating, benches and equipment, interpretation signage to allow people to understand what they are looking at or for, improved habitats to widen the species of animals, birds and insects found at the arboretum, improved links with other conservation bodies, and more volunteers working on conservation projects.