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Mini-wetlands could boost Richmond’s biodiversity, mitigate flooding and help local wildlife beat the heat

Date: 12 September 2023
Author: Penny Read
Title: Communications and Campaigns Manager at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust

In 2022 the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), Barnes Common Limited and the London Borough of Richmond on Thames all joined forces to launch the Community BlueScapes project.

This multi-year collaboration aims to create and improve the area's existing green and blue spaces in consultation with, and with support from the local community.

This project, and the community wetlands it could create in the coming years, offer many benefits to the people of Richmond.

Adding more wetlands to the borough could help to slow flows into drains in times of excess rainfall to mitigate flooding, cool urban areas with bodies of water in extreme heat and provide the perfect habitats for local wildlife to live in year-round.

While the project is still in its early days this summer has seen temperatures soaring, stressing wildlife and acting as a sign of things to come as climate change accelerates.

Though wider scale action is necessary to fight climate change Richmond residents can all do something immediate to help their local wildlife in this weather – you can all build your own mini-wetlands.

The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust recently launched a mini-wetlands campaign, encouraging everyone with even the smallest outdoor space to build their own bucket pond or drainpipe rain garden.

Our website features easy how-to guides and DIY videos on how to build your own mini-wetland and a spotter sheet to help you identify the wildlife you attract.

A mosaic of mini-wetland habitats is incredibly valuable anywhere, but particularly in towns and cities. The UK has lost 75% of our wetlands in the last 300 years and this is especially true in urban areas, where wetlands have been drained to build on.

Wetlands support more life than any other habitat on earth, and mini-wetlands like ponds are often more nature-rich metre for metre than larger water bodies such as rivers and lakes.

Search has also shown that these small wetlands in built-up areas can support similar levels of insect life to their rural counterparts.

By building your own mini-wetlands in Richmond you will give nature the biggest boost possible, because freshwater wetlands support more life per square kilometre than any other type of habitat, and the collection and storage of rainwater in your mini-wetland could help slow the flow of water in drains, helping to reduce the severity of future flooding events.

To help budding pond-builders get started we have published the Make a Big Splash for Nature booklet and created some step by step videos to guide you through the simple process. You can also read about funding and building larger scale community wetland projects.

If you are asked by Thames Water or your local council to limit standing water from collecting to prevent mosquitos breeding follow the relevant advice related to ponds.

Once you have created your own personal watery oasis, we would encourage you to share photos with us on Twitter by tagging @WWTWorldwide and @CBluescapes and using the hashtag #MiniWetlands.

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Updated: 9 October 2023