Natural ponds

Geological evidence shows that ponds have existed for millions of years. During this time many plants and animals have become adapted to life in ponds and rely on this type of habitat to survive.

Will Watson Breckland pingo with water violet_II
More recently human activity has lead to the loss of ponds. About 2000-3000 years ago, before our ancestors started to drain the land, at least a quarter of Britain would have been wetlands, including ponds.

Now, most of our land has been drained and is used for farmland so there are only a few areas of semi-natural land. If you walk through the New Forest in Hampshire, England or the ancient Scottish Caledonian forests, and see areas of wet land, you will see clues as to what the landscape used to look like.

What are these ponds like?

  • They come in all shapes and sizes, with different water depths – from small dips in the ground with a few centimetres of water to deep pools.
  • They can be short-lived, being created and filled-in over a cycle of tens or hundreds of years.
  • But some ponds, such as bog ponds, are very stable and don’t change much over thousands of years.
  • Ponds will have been common in areas where there is lots of water, such as river valleys, fens, bogs and wet woodland.