Ice Age Ponds Project
An exciting new Ice Age Ponds Project has launched in Herefordshire with development funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) – thanks to players of the National Lottery. The Project aims to save the area’s unique glacial ponds. These incredible heritage ponds were created around 20,000 years ago during the last Ice Age, when woolly mammoths were still roaming the area. Remarkably many of these ponds still exist today! This exciting new project is being delivered by a partnership of local conservation organisations that include Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, Herefordshire Amphibian and Reptile Team and the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust.
Herefordshire’s Ice Age or ‘Kettle Hole Ponds’ are an important but poorly understood feature of the landscape. Towards the end of the last ice age, around 23–24,000 years ago, a tongue of ice expanded into North West Herefordshire. Although this ice expansion was brief, it abruptly and dramatically changed the landscape.
Kettle holes form when glacial sands and gravels from the melting glaciers pile up around blocks of ice carved from the retreating glacier front. When the ice blocks melt they leave depressions up to 10 metres deep. Remarkably some of these ponds persist today, an incredible legacy that has survived for over 20,000 years and are both ecologically and geologically interesting.
Nationally ice age ponds are scarce; it has been estimated that probably less than 2% of lowland ponds are natural and probably only 1% of these are Ice Age in origin. However, in Herefordshire we are privileged as this rises to approximately 25%, representing a nationally important resource.
Over time, sediment and peat accumulated in these natural ponds and diverse aquatic habitats with rich assemblages of plants and animals developed. Today, they continue to host distinctive ecosystems that depend on their peculiar topography and drainage conditions. Intact kettle hole ponds can be very rich in aquatic life including all five of the county’s amphibian species.
Sadly, ice age ponds are also vulnerable and are regularly damaged or destroyed. They have received little investigation and are poorly understood by the public and the scientific community. The funding that we have secured will enable the project partners to engage with local communities and landowners to protect many of the remaining ponds. We will discover their historic and present wildlife and create trails and interpretation that explores the ponds and their history.
A mammoth task?
For those interested in getting more involved in these very special events to learn more about our unique natural heritage, Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, along with Herefordshire Amphibian and Reptile Team (HART) and Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust (HWEHT), will be holding information days and running training courses for volunteers wanting to get more involved with the scientific surveys and practical conservation work. Everyone is welcome, whatever your experience, as this will be a fantastic opportunity to find out more about your local environment, learn some new skills and enjoy meeting some new faces. Dates and locations are:
- Thursday 28th March at Credenhill Community Centre
- Friday 29th March at Pembridge Village Hall
- Sunday 14th April at Credenhill Community Centre
- Saturday 11th May at Pembridge Village Hall
Please contact David Hutton, the Ice Age Ponds Project Manager on 01432 356872 or firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Conserving Herefordshire's Ice Age Ponds has initially been granted round one development funding of £90,400 by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, allowing it to progress with its plans, having been originally inspired by local HART naturalists. An application will be made in August 2019 for a full grant of £252,600. If the application is successful, this will result in a further two years of funding from NLHF, enabling more surveys and practical work to take place. The total project cost if successful will be worth in the region of £317,000.
The project is being delivered by a partnership of local conservation organisations: Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, Herefordshire Amphibian and Reptile Team and the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust.