8th March 2018

Having planted 18000 trees, at Sylvan Nature Reserve, the next thing we wanted to do to enhance the biodiversity was to dig some ponds. These ponds would be too big to dig by hand, which meant they needed planning permission. That was something of a challenge, as the documents for planning permission generally seemed to expect an applicant to be applying to construct something that protrudes upwards from the ground, rather than going down into it! We had to submit detailed plans and ‘elevations’, which were easy enough to do, but must have looked a little unusual compared to most planning applications. The planning department was unfortunately very slow and unresponsive, and their officers broke all their own deadlines. This was a problem, as we were very keen to avoid digging the ponds during the months when amphibians would be hibernating, as we didn’t want to disturb them. Unfortunately we missed the ‘window’ during which we hoped to start the digging. The first ponds were dug in Summer 2016. We wanted to keep them as natural as possible, and decided not to use liners. One of the ponds held water, but the other didn’t.

In 2017 we dug more ponds, and also lined the new ponds and the existing ones with ‘puddle clay’ which is a natural way to keep water in a pond. We also made a ‘scrape’. This is a slight deepening of an already low lying section of land. It will contain shallow water during the wetter parts of the year, but may dry out in the summer. It will be ideal for wading birds and amphibians.

The ponds have been designed with stepped profiles and easy access in and out to help wildlife. They are in groups, with three linked ponds in two of our meadow areas. They all now hold water, and it’s amazing to see how they have filled with rainwater, and water plants have simply arrived and started to grow. We love to see the footprints of deer who have come to drink from the ponds. Our next task is to plant flag irises and marsh marigolds; the roots of these will offer protection for frogs, toads and newts, and provide places for them all to lay their spawn. Would you like to support us in this project by sponsoring a pond?

At Bank Woods, we are fortunate to have a number of streams running through the land, including two beautiful streams running through the Ancient Woodland. We will be slowing some of these down by partially damming them using fallen tree branches and willow planting, which will have two main benefits – it will slow down the flow of water from the higher land into the Nidd Valley, which helps to alleviate flooding, and it will provide an important new habitat for amphibians. Would you like to support us in this project by sponsoring a pond? 


In 2020 we dug a large wildlife pond at Bank Woods – it is alive with numerous dragonflies in the summer, and has produced many frogs each spring. Testing of the water in autumn 2022 confirmed that it does not contain any nitrates at all, making it an excellent pond for biodiversity.

In 2021 we dug ponds at Windmill Hill, and in 2022 we dug ponds at Dacre Woodlands.