Dipping into the world of nature

Daily Echo: The new pond at Testwood will attract wildlife such as newts and emperor dragonflies. The new pond at Testwood will attract wildlife such as newts and emperor dragonflies.

IN honour of Testwood Lakes tenth anniversary, a new wetland habitat has been created for the benefit of wildlife and people.

A purpose built large pond area with dipping platforms has been created to encourage wetland wildlife such as newts, toads and dragonflies.

The pond has been created over the past two months, and involved a huge amount of volunteer time and effort in helping with all aspects of the project from the digging and lining of the pond to boarding the dipping platforms and fencing the site.

Testwood Lakes is a partnership project between the Wildlife Trust and Southern Water, and it provides day visits to over 3,500 school-aged children a year, many of whom want to experience the joys of pond dipping.

The Wildlife Trust’s Education Officer, Sam Dawson spoke about the need for the pond project. “Sadly, our very small pond at the Education Centre has been suffering with the huge demand to find fascinating pond creatures.

“Reluctant to turn enthusiastic youngsters away, we needed a solution to create a bigger and more sustainable pond habitat. We had been looking for funding for some time and were very pleased to hear that the ‘PUSHing Down the Barriers’ project were looking for a project which would leave a lasting legacy.”   

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Young volunteers from the project worked alongside Wildlife Trust volunteers from the Friends of Testwood and Lower Test, and Southern Water staff, sharing and developing skills in pond design, pond lining, planting and fencing. “We are very grateful to all those people who gave up their time to make the pond a reality.”

Over time, the pond will attract a wide variety of wildlife including diving beetles, waterboatmen, dragonfly and damselfly larvae, water stick insects, water scorpions, snails, newts, frogs or toads. 

It’s also hoped to attract more dragonflies and damselflies such as the stunning blue and green Emperor dragonfly and the delicate red-eyed damselflies.

The three year ‘PUSHing down the Barriers’ youth engagement project worked with PUSH, (the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire – a consortium of Local Councils), the University of Portsmouth, New Forest District Council, a wide range of schools, youth clubs, youth offending teams, social services and community groups. 

The majority of the funding for the project came from the Access to Nature Programme run by Natural England, which aims to encourage more people to enjoy the outdoors, particularly those who face social exclusion or those that currently have little or no contact with the natural environment.

Alison Fowler, the Wildlife Trust’s Head of Education, said, “Over the three year project, hundreds of  young people experienced the natural world, took part in practical conservation work and learnt useful practical and social skills that will assist them in their future lives.

“It was nice to see the young people using their skills developed over this time to create the pond and leave this lasting legacy at Testwood Lakes, a super-sized dipping pond for children and adults of all ages.”

  • For more information please see the website hiwwt.org.uk

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