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Wetlands

Wetland is an important habitat in both Kent and the Pas de Calais. In the Kent Downs, wetlands constitute 276 hectares or just under 0.3% of the land area, while they cover just less than 1% or 6000 hectares of the Parc Naturel RĂ©gional CMO. Positive management is essential to prevent degradation, habitat loss or colonisation by non native invasive flora and fauna.

The Landscape and Nature for All project addressed both marsh land and pond habitats. The project conserved and enhanced  these areas and the  project  teams exchanged expertise in pond monitoring and evaluation techniques. The project also looked at the  water level management in marsh areas. Other actions concerning ponds included: surveying to gain baseline data to focus resources on the restoration, creation and enhancement of ponds, targeted recruitment of pond wardens and training courses to improve their skills, sharing of best practice for designing and building ponds, creation of education ponds and exchange of experiences about educational activities around ponds, awareness raising events about the importance of ponds for biodiversity.

Ponds are very important for biodiversity as they host specific and sometimes rare fauna and flora species.

A feature often found on the Kent Downs is the dew pond. These simple shallow depressions, usually found on the crest of the Downs, were simply stock watering ponds. Because of the porous nature of chalk, most were lined with clay to prevent water from draining away. The origin of this kind of pond should be linked to feeding of water from surrounding ground with some assistance from water accumulating in the form of mist and low cloud. These seasonal ponds provide an important habitat for wildlife especially creatures that are able to tolerate the seasonal nature of fluctuating water levels. Great crested newts for example are particularly adapted to these conditions where predators such as fish are unable to live. A good example of a dew pond can be seen near West Hougham, Dover. Known as Soval pond this feature can be viewed from the nearby public right of way that runs along the top of Whinless Down towards the village of West Hougham.

In the 1970s especially there was a significant shift in the downs away from grassland to arable as some farmers took advantage of the common agricultural policy subsidies into cereal production (even taken advantage of payments for land over a certain height which was probably intended for upland farmers). The decline in grazing, especially with cattle, often coincides with a decline in the limited fresh water habitats too as they are no longer required for watering stock.

Ponds in the countryside have disappeared as wet fields have been drained to increase agricultural productivity, and their use for watering stock has become less important. Loss of ponds means less of the wildlife that thrives on ponds such as amphibians, dragonflies, and certain types of plants. Although ponds on the Downs are not as abundant as those on the solid clays of the Weald, they can be very important because the Downs are a drier environment and water is harder to come by.A salt marsh is a type of marsh between land and salty or brackish water: it is a wetland which is subject to frequent or continuous flood. As with the ponds, salt marshes are rich in fauna and flora species and are precious for protecting and enhancing biodiversity.
Whether made by people or nature, a new pond or wetland will quickly become home to a range of wildlife.