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Wolds Dew Pond Restoration

Thanks to National Lottery players, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is to revive a threatened, once distinctive and important feature of Yorkshire’s rural landscape. Supported by funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Wolds Water project is set to benefit both the natural and cultural heritage of the region.

Have you got any stories or memories of dew ponds to share? Contact us

The Wolds Water project sees Yorkshire Wildlife Trust working with local farmers to restore a network of historic dew ponds stretching more than 20 miles from Thixendale to Fordon in the heart of the Yorkshire Wolds.

The Trust is also working with Driffield Agricultural Society to create a demonstration pond at Driffield Showground to showcase the history and wildlife of such ponds to tens of thousands of visitors each year.

The dew ponds were created predominantly in the 18th and 19th centuries to provide crucial water for livestock in the dry landscape of the High Wolds.
Whilst few are used by livestock today, they are a haven for wildlife and an important historic feature of the landscape.

The project is training volunteers in pond restoration and surveying and species identification to develop a strong skill base within the local community to subsequently manage and maintain the restored ponds.

A programme of educational visits, guided walks and talks will additionally inform, inspire and engage people of all ages with the heritage and history of dew ponds.

The Wolds Water project will also capture memories and stories from members of the local community who remember the ponds in use in a bygone farming age. These oral histories, together with the natural and cultural heritage identified and recorded through the project will be developed into a new online resource.

The high plateau of the Yorkshire Wolds is a naturally dry landscape and the degradation and loss of dew pond habitats poses a major threat to freshwater biodiversity in the region. The importance of the dew ponds for wildlife and their historic value is recognised in the Local Biodiversity Action Plans (BAP) of both the East Riding of Yorkshire Council and neighbouring Ryedale District Council.

Common Toad Credit Martin Batt

 The dew ponds of the Wolds support a range of aquatic species including BAP priority species such as the common toad and tassel stonewort as well as rare water beetles.

The isolated nature of the ponds limits the ability of these species to disperse and find new habitat.

The ponds also provide important feeding habitat for the young of many farmland birds including tree sparrow, grey partridge and lapwing which rely on a plentiful supply of invertebrates and which have suffered dramatic losses with populations reported to have declined by 69 per cent over recent decades.

The active involvement of the local community is at the heart of this project as we seek to reconnect people with the history and wildlife of dew ponds so that these features once again become a core part of the culture and landscape of the Wolds.

Have you got any stories or memories of dew ponds to share? If so, or if you’d like to be involved with the project, contact Yorkshire Wildlife Trust by emailing info@ywt.org.uk or telephoning 01904 659570.