Ewhurst LEAP (“Local Environment Action People”) are a small group of villagers that enjoy meeting roughly once a month on a Saturday morning to improve the environment around the civil parish. Our website www.EwhurstLEAP.org.uk lists some of the things we do, and the blog on the website describes our latest ‘outings’.
In the last few years we have started working on the pond opposite the Village Hall. Until a few years ago the area was overgrown and needed some help, so with the agreement of the Parish Council, who own it, we stepped in to tidy it up.
We knew we had to take care to minimise any disturbance to wildlife in and around the pond, especially Great Crested Newts, a protected species found in many other local ponds and very likely to use this one too. After taking advice LEAP now performs a yearly tidy up in early autumn, after any newts that have used the pond over the summer have left. To minimise unwanted brambles and tree saplings, all the surroundings are cut back as the wildflowers have finished flowering (except the Michaelmas Daisies, which we leave until later into the autumn). We also borrow the Cranleigh Conservation Volunteers’ waders to get in the deep end! This is to remove the sedge and other water plants to leave more open water.
There are many animals using wildlife ponds at all times of the year so we were advised to clear only one third of the pond in any one year, but in practice we only manage about a quarter on a four year rotation. As you can imagine this generates a lot of ‘green’ material to be disposed of. We leave it on the pond bank at the back (away from the road) for a month to let any creatures return to the pond, then take it to a nearby compost heap. Because of the risk of spreading unwanted or invasive species, pond material is considered contaminated waste and the local councils are unable to take it.
After leaving it for a year the pond is somewhat overgrown and we do it all over again. Considering the improvement this has made, it is not bad work for a small band of people in just two mornings! The pond is not the only work we do, please take a look at the website for more information. Everybody is welcome to join us; please use our website to subscribe to our monthly email for details of where and when we are meeting.