The Stangrove Pond Survey - 2006

Stangrove Pond Slide Show

Involvement of local schools

If the pond is to flourish long term it is imperative that the younger generation should be involved and enthused with its ongoing management and maintenance. Local schools could be involved at every level, from monitoring of species to light maintenance projects, given that all the appropriate safety precautions are in place.

To facilitate better/safer access, dipping platforms could be constructed, ideally of elm, although, taking into account its rarity these days, oak is an acceptable substitute. Dependent on the substrate it may be necessary to construct some sort of cantilever to prevent the submerged front legs from sinking under the weight of users. I have seen old telegraph poles used in this way by burying a long section into the bank and using the ends projecting over the water for support. If the substrate is firm I find that setting the legs in augured holes and back filling with coarse gravel gives good results and can be as firm as concrete, with fewer problems with removal when the time comes for replacement.

Highslide JS
Dipping platforms - could be constructed, ideally of elm, although, taking into account its rarity these days, oak is an acceptable substitute...
Dipping platforms...

The first requirement, of course, is to improve the aquatic fauna to a degree that makes pond dipping worthwhile. The platforms should then be constructed in a sunny location (midway along the northern bank looks good and would be bathed in sunlight for most of the day in summer), in water of no more than eighteen inches in depth, with the platform around six inches from the summer top water level (there may be some problems with fluctuating winter/summer levels i.e. submerged in winter, too far from the water in summer) so that the children using them can comfortably reach the bottom without over-reaching or stretching. This is for two reasons, first safety, and secondly because the best results are to be obtained by raking the bottom and delving into dense weed, with the dipping net, as this is where the bulk of the invertebrate life will be found lurking. It may be necessary to impose a restricted season for usage so as to avoid disturbing the great crested newts breeding cycle. The platform deck should be covered with chicken wire, or similar, to prevent slipping when wet.

Once completed, Edenbridge Town Council or the schools involved could acquire a stock of properly made dipping nets, trays, pooters, etc, and a few of the infinite focus monoculars that are so useful for studying insects, particularly dragonflies. Perhaps these could be held in store somewhere that they can be made available on request, or booked in advance.

ALANA are a great source of all manner of naturalists equipment and have an excellent catalogue and web-site at They may also be contacted at Alana Ecology Ltd, The Old Primary School, Church Street, Bishop?s Castle, Shropshire, SY9 5AE Tel: 01588 630173, Fax: 01588 630176.

Highslide JS
The platform deck - should be covered with chicken wire, or similar, to prevent slipping when wet...
The platform deck...

The children could usefully be employed in growing plugs of wild flowers for transplanting around the pond, and in monitoring their progress. Not only would this benefit the environs of the pond, it would also help the local children to become familiar with our native flora and its requirements. They could keep records of the species encountered on their dipping expeditions and plot graphs of their numbers through the seasons/years. This would build to provide a genuinely useful database by which to gauge the health of the pond. Back in class they might be encouraged to construct various types of 'wildlife beneficial' boxes to be mounted, out of reach, in the surrounding trees, or to discuss other ways of improving, or adding to, the types of habitat available and how they become further involved in the project.

The national curriculum requires that children be taught about the environment and its conservation. If treated wisely and well managed the pond could not only become a valuable wildlife haven but a real boon for this aspect of education.

Anyone with any interest in the project would do well to consider at least a couple of books: Complete British Insects, by Michael Chinery. Published by Collins. And, Complete British Wildlife, by Paul Sterry, and also published by Collins. These will, for an outlay of around thirty pounds, provide a concise basic means of identification of almost all of our more common flora and fauna, while Paul Sterry's book, Pond Watching, published in the Nature Watch series, by Hamlyn, is also worthy of consideration.

Of course the list is endless and I will be happy to advise on further reading on request. There are also many courses available through the wildlife trusts or via the many field study centres around the country and I would be only too pleased to point those who may be interested in the right direction.