With May 2019’s theme being “Water for Wildlife”, this is the perfect time to mention the ponds we have here at Belfairs. We only have a few, and they are rather small and hard to find- though perhaps this adds to their charm. The ponds add to the diversity of the reserve, supporting a number of species not found elsewhere on the site, including some fabulously fragrant Water Mint.
Unfortunately, one of the ponds supports another aquatic plant not found elsewhere on the reserve; Floating Pennywort. This species is native to the Americas and was brought to the UK as an ornamental plant. It was first recorded growing wild in the 1990s, with the first wild UK records coming from here in Essex. This non-native species has a number of detrimental effects: outcompeting native aquatic plants, preventing wind-mixing of bodies of water, blocking sunlight and disrupting erosional-depositional processes.
Floating Pennywort can spread up to 20cm a day under the right conditions and is able to regrow from a small fragment, so we will need to come back to the pond a number of times over the summer to remove regrowth. Though controlling the Pennywort will take considerable time and effort, hopefully by doing so we will allow this pond to remain a special bit of habitat.