Frost’s Common is a Forestry Commission plantation, part of Breckland Forest Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Protection Area (SPA).

The site has over 40 natural ponds formed in the late Ice Age by freezing and thawing of upwelling ground water. Such ponds are referred to as Pingos or palsa-scars and are a characteristic feature of the Breckland Commons of West Norfolk. Where protected from pollution, Brekland’s Pingo ponds are some of Britain’s very finest freshwater habitats.

Ponds at Frost’s Common are home to many rare freshwater plants and animals including invertebrates associated with Pingo systems like the Red Data Book diving beetle Hydroporus glabriusculus and Crawling Water Beetle Enochrus nigritus. Survey work carried out in 2015 for the Flagship Ponds project recorded 11 Red Data Book invertebrates from a previously un-surveyed cluster of ponds – adding to the long list of rare species for this site. This survey data will be used to assess the impact of planned management work carried out by Norfolk Wildlife Trust and Forestry Commission, setting up an experiment with ‘before’ and ‘after’ surveys to better understand the implications of management of these sensitive habitats.

Working with local community group ‘Friends of Thetford Forest’ a water testing day was arranged to assess the scale of nutrient pollution at Frost’s Common. Testing over 30 ponds, ditches and streams across the site showed that the majority of Pingos were free from pollution, yet water flowing into the site from the surrounding landscape was often highly polluted. This has implications for long term protection and management of the site and will help Forestry Commission to protect these special ponds.

Location: Norfolk

Accessibility: Some Flagship Pond sites are accessible to the public, and some are not. If in doubt, consult maps for rights of way, look online for site information, or contact the site manager, and follow any instructions on site. It is up to you to check whether you require permission to visit and access the ponds on a site.

Site owners/managers: Forestry Commission