Springs are places where underground water emerges at the surface – the start of many streams and some ponds. They may turn into tiny seepages and become flushes, or they may be the beginning of substantial water courses.
Where are they found?
Springs are found all over the country, and in all kinds of landscape, although they are less common where land drainage has lowered the water level in the ground.
What can you find living in a spring?
Springs are places where small animals and plants dominate – mosses and liverworts, cold water flatworms, caddis flies, the larvae of two-winged flies. The endangered Southern Damselfly can often be found very close to the start of springs and seepages. Sometimes creatures that live in water underground also come to the surface at springs. If the spring is permanent it may be used by fish – bullheads, for example, live right up close to the beginning of many streams.
Why are they important?
Springs are important because they support specialised and often little known species that need cool and often permanently flowing water. But not much is known about the life in springs and they may turn out to have even more value than we currently imagine. In some parts of the country they are especially important for mosses and liverworts, plants that often go overlooked. Petrifying springs with tufa formation (Cratoneurion) where tufa forms are specially protected under the Habitats Directive.
What we’re doing to help
We’re going to start by mapping the places where springs supporting endangered species occur and by raising awareness of them.