By Emily Newton
Ponds are the hidden gems all kinds of people love to come across. They’re an excellent source of life — from lilypads to the frogs that sit on them. Its ecological benefits may go unnoticed because it is such a small body of water.
Truthfully, ponds do much more for the environment than is immediately apparent. They are crucial to the life they support and, therefore, to the whole ecosystem. Entire systems would be disrupted without them, so their protection and maintenance are vital to preserving their surroundings.
What’s the State of Ponds Today?
There are around 3 million ponds worldwide, representing more than 90% of the 304 million standing bodies of water on Earth. However, this number has been shrinking for a long time and doesn’t show signs of slowing down.
The Earth has lost 90% of its wetlands in the last three centuries. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands was the first to report this number. The treaty intended to halt the loss of so many naturally occurring wetlands, such as ponds, swamps and marshes. Though countries internationally signed the treaty in 1971, the loss of these ecosystems has only increased since then. The convention group says the Earth is losing its wetlands three times faster than the loss of the world’s forests.
Why are ponds disappearing so quickly? The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust has identified two reasons — a lack of maintenance and agricultural changes. Some ponds require upkeep to remain healthy, and farmers once dug such ponds to water crops and livestock. They used to have time to take care of them, but as the world has become so high-speed, ponds are often neglected and grow harmful bacteria. Additionally, because agriculture now needs more land, many ponds have been filled in so farmers can plant on top of them.
This has harmful effects on the environment. Filling in ponds destroys the local ecosystems that rely on them for food and water. About 43% of the United States’ endangered species need wetlands to survive, and the rate they are disappearing puts these plants and animals on the brink of extinction.
Why Are Ponds Important?
People may be wondering why ponds are so important in the first place and why they should care. It’s because of the many ecological benefits they provide that are essential to survival.
1. Ponds Provide Habitats for Many Animals
A healthy pond can provide a home to various animals, many of which are currently endangered due to habitat loss. Ponds offer many resources to keep the animal and plant population safe, from the usual inhabitants to some more unexpected ones.
- Plants: A pond’s plants are the foundation of its food chain. Healthy ponds need the right kinds of aquatic plants to provide benefits. They help prevent algae by breaking down the waste from the surrounding animals. Aquatic plants also provide shade, protecting prey from predators and abating algae growth. They are nourishment for the animals that live there and improve the quality of the water. Plants are the building blocks of the life a pond provides.
- Amphibians and reptiles: Frogs, salamanders and turtles are also important to a pond. They are prey and predators, perpetuating the cycle of life. Frogs are wonderful sources of bug management, as most species eat various insects and arachnids. Unfortunately, they are also some of the most sensitive to pollution, which allows conservationists to quickly notice when something negative has been introduced to a pond or lake.
- Birds: Many species of birds use ponds as a source of water or a place to rest after a long flight. They will also eat bugs and rid the water of potential algae They feed on aquatic plants, helping to spread their seeds as they migrate. Ponds provide waterfowl like ducks, geese and herons with food and much-needed stopping places.
- Mammals: It’s not common to think of mammals relying on ponds, but they provide many essential resources. Many animals are suffering from habitat fragmentation, which makes it harder for them to access food and water. Ponds allow them a safe place to eat and drink in a world that is making it hard for them to do so.
2. Ponds Can Remove Pollution
Some kinds of ponds can cycle pollution out of the water. Plants remove harmful additives and protect humans and wildlife. These stormwater ponds collect water from rainfall in residential areas and use diverse plant life to filter pollutants and absorb extra nutrients. In addition to providing food to the inhabiting animals, the many plants that can live in ponds do a lot to reduce the harmful materials that can be picked up in the water cycle or from runoff.
3. A Healthy Pond Means a Healthy Environment
Ponds that thrive with life benefit the local ecosystem. Many of these places have been destroyed, and producing new and healthy ones will encourage biodiversity and bring animals back from endangerment. High numbers of native plants and animals in a flourishing pond show that the local environment is in great condition.
This is vital because it preserves the food chain. The Earth would likely notice significant shifts without any of the animals that typically live in ponds. Harmful species would thrive without their normal predators and could end up in worldwide food supplies.
What Can Be Done to Help?
People can restore the world’s ponds with routine maintenance and a change in how they treat the environment.
Those with large ponds on their property should keep an eye on their condition. Taking notice of when a pond has an odd smell or appearance is a crucial first step. People can perform basic maintenance to keep them in good health, but it’s also vital to know when to alert professionals when the water needs to be dredged. These preservation techniques will help encourage the well-being of a pond’s ecosystem.
Properly cultivated ponds can also act as natural carbon sinks, allowing for greenhouse gas absorption. Ponds with high amounts of the right plants can help combat global warming while promoting necessary life.
Fight Climate Change
The planet’s warming harms a pond’s water and everything living there. The higher temperatures are already causing problems for fish accustomed to colder water. This heat also encourages ponds to dry up, and longer dry seasons prevent the species that live there, plant or animal, from accessing their homes.
Ponds will only be able to help reduce carbon emissions if their water remains within them. People need to reduce their carbon footprint and create more healthy ponds to combat Earth’s warming.
Local Ecosystems and the Environment Need Ponds
The evidence clearly shows that ponds are a necessity. They support so much life, can be natural pollution filters and are examples of a healthy environment. Thriving ponds can do a lot of good for local ecosystems and the Earth as a whole. The public may overlook them, but they are one of the Earth’s most important resources for biodiversity and environmental preservation.
Bio: Emily Newton is a journalist with over five years covering the environmental sector. As Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, she also covers the many ways technology is changing our world.