There is plenty of information available on line about pond conservation and management. But you have to sift through much material about building small garden fish ponds to find advice relevant to an old farm pond and moat . This is what we found most useful:
Pond Conservation, at Oxford Brookes University
The best single source is a charity, Pond Conservation, based at Oxford Brookes University, which is entirely dedicated to ponds. Their website is http://www.pondconservation.org.uk/
Among other projects Pond Conservation is encouraging the creation of brand new wildlife ponds under a scheme called the Million Ponds Project. Its advice on wildlife, management, surveying and constructing ponds is comprehensive, and it also has material on historic ponds and how to look after them. The focus is very much on the wildlife in ponds and how to preserve it.
They disapprove of dredging ponds just to deepen them or prevent them drying out in the summer, on the grounds that a pond that dries seasonally remains an excellent habitat and may contain creatures specially adapted to these conditions, and that deeper ponds may actually be a less diverse habitat.
This ignores one important issue for pond owners, which is that the amenity value of drying ponds with deep mud is very low. They are unsightly and smelly for months on end in the summer and autumn, and certain sorts of deep mud are dangerous. Yet for many people, the pond is the main feature of the garden. We do not think that managing for minimum disturbance to promote the wildlife should always be the top priority.
As explained in another post, our pond had a long history of intensive management as a farm pond, and probably before that as a moat. We had good word of mouth reasons to think that it had been cleared twice a century in the past, and it was no doubt repopulated by wildlife after each clearance, perhaps going through several phases as different creatures moved in while it gradually silted again. There are many other ponds in the neighbourhood from which creatures could migrate, the nearest less than 100 metres way, and each is at a different stage of its life so that, taking our hamlet as a whole, there is a wide spread of pond habitat and creatures. We suspect the wildlife will fight its way back in, whatever we do, and that that has been true for generations of pond clearance. Frankly, the alternative to clearing the pond would have been to fill it in to remove a summer and autumn eyesore (which one of the contractors advised was much the cheapest solution.) So we decided to do what the farmers had always done, clean it completely, and wait for the wildlife to come back.
Suffolk Wildlife Trust
This organisation covers a wide range of issues, and does not ignore ponds . The website is http://www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org
It has useful detail about managing and restoring ponds. The trust advises against encouraging ducks because they can deter other wildlife by muddying the water, constantly stirring silt, and depositing too many nutrients with their own waste. The trust is similarly negative about fish in ponds.
These documents have useful advice:
British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV)
Publishes an excellent manual, Waterways and Wetlands, a practical handbook, by Alan Brooks and Elizabeth Agate, which covers much more than ponds but contains very useful technical advice that applies to large ponds. Available from the BTCV or on Amazon. One bit of advice we ignored: it says don’t drive wooden stakes into clay bottoms. However, we assumed this meant puddled clay in canals and artificial ponds. Our clay bottom is a natural deposit and appears to be several feet thick in places, if not more. The BTCV website is:
The Wildlife Trusts
Umbrella body for 47wildlife trusts. Website:
The Wildlife Pond Handbook, by Louise Bardsley with a foreword by Charlie Dimmock, published under the Wildlife Trusts logo by Connaught. Very useful for for learning about pond wildlife and plants, less so for practical information about how to reclaim an old pond.
Norfolk Broads Authority
We contacted the engineering department who gave helpful advice on using geotextiles in revetements built to support banks. We didn’t use textiles as the main barrier, in the end, but not because of their advice. Website: