Freshwater Habitats Trust is part of the international consortium that is running the Horizon 2020 project PONDERFUL. This innovative project is developing improved methods for maximising the use of ponds and pondscapes in climate change adaptation and mitigation, biodiversity conservation and the delivery of ecosystem services.

Woman on inflatable kayak with clipboard on a pond.

Because of their small size, the significance of ponds has long been underestimated. They are, for example, largely excluded from the Water Framework Directive in Europe, even though the Directive is actually intended to protect ‘all waters’. In North America, their inclusion in the protections provided by the Clean Water Act are contested, and in other areas they lie largely outside regulatory systems. However, research over the last 10-15 years has shown that, because of their abundance, heterogeneity, exceptional biodiversity, inherent naturalness and biogeochemical potency, ponds play a role in catchments, landscapes, and potentially at continental scale which is completely out of proportion to their small size.

PONDERFUL could change all of that.

Research in PONDERFUL is increasing understanding of the ways in which ponds, as a Nature-Based Solution (NBS), can help society to mitigate and adapt to climate change, protect biodiversity and deliver ecosystem services.

PONDERFUL is led by the University of Vic (Spain) and brings together experienced researchers from nine European states and from Turkey and Uruguay. Freshwater Habitats Trust is very pleased to be one of the 18 project partners who are working together to deliver this important and innovative project.

The full project team comprises: the University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia; IGB Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries; Katholieke Universiteit Leuven; Haute Ecole Specialisée de Suisse Occidentale; Universitat de Girona; Ecologic Institute, Berlin; University College London; Middle East Technical University; CIIMAR – Centro Interdisciplinar de Investigação Marinha e Ambiental; Aarhus Universitet; Uppsala Universitet; Bangor University; Technische Universitaet Muenchen; Institut Superieur d’agriculture Rhone Alpes I.S.A.R.A; Freshwater Habitats Trust; Universidad de la Republica, Uruguay; Randbee Consultants and Amphi International.

Large group of people standing next to the sea, with city scape behind them.

PONDERFUL has five components

1 Stakeholder engagement

Developing a strategic approach to engagement with stakeholders, to ensure that they are able to effectively implement the benefits of ponds as Nature-Based Solutions

2 Establish the relationship between pond biodiversity and ecosystem services

Generate extensive new biodiversity and ecosystem services datasets to better establish the relationship between pond biodiversity and the delivery of ecosystem services

3 Understand more about ponds as NBS

Establish models that enable us to test and optimise practical scenarios for the use of ponds and Nature-Based Solutions.

4 Identify how ponds can help us mitigate and adapt to climate change

Create a set of demonstration sites across Europe which show to practitioners and policy makers how ponds can help to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.

5 Communication and dissemination

Ensure that the project’s outputs are widely known to policy makers, practitioners and other stakeholder.