Influencing National Policy

1st August 2013

Protecting ponds by influencing policy – The National Ecosystem Assessment and National Environment White Paper

In June 2011 the British Government published two major reports – the National Ecosystem Assessment and the Natural Environment White Paper. Both are important milestones in the way we think about protecting the environment and will have a big influence on the way conservation is done in the UK generally over the next 10 years. Because of this we at Freshwater Habitats Trust put a lot of effort into getting information about ponds into both documents.

The National Ecosystem Assessment summarises the state of the environment in the UK – effectively an environmental audit. How much water do we have, how much woodland, what is the status of different species and the way the natural environment provides us with ‘ecosystem services’, for example food, air, clean water.

We contributed directly to the writing of the freshwater sections of the National Ecosystem Assessment. As a result of this, a significant environmental policy document describing the freshwater environment has, for the first time, adopted a perspective that considers ponds (and other small water bodies) as a significant part of the freshwater environment.

Equally important is the acknowledgment of our work in the Natural Environment White Paper. The White Paper sets out what government aims to achieve in the environment over the next 10 years.

NEWP Pond Box

Extract from page 30 of the Natural Environment White Paper ©HM Government

In the White Paper we managed to get two ‘boxes’ on ponds inserted into the report – a brief but hard fought description of the value of small waterbodies – and one on the Million Ponds Project Biodiversity Action Plan species map, a public nature conservation tool which fits very well with the ethos of greater public engagement.NEWP 2011 MPP Case Study copyright HM Govt

NEWP MPP Case Study

Ponds were not integrated into the main text about freshwater in the White Paper as much as we would wish. However, it is still a major achievement – and something we are already using as platform on which to build.