In autumn last year, Essex & Suffolk Water started the project at Abberton Reservoir near Colchester, to create and enhance more than two hectares of priority habitat. Priority habitats are a range of semi-natural habitat types that have been identified as the most threatened and requiring conservation action.
In addition to the habitat enhancement, the water company and Essex Wildlife Trust have been hard at work over the past three years to restore seven ponds. This includes Essex & Suffolk Water restoring four ponds to their natural glory at Hanningfield Reservoir, located between Billericay and Chelmsford, and Essex Wildlife Trust restoring two ponds at their Abberton Reservoir Nature Reserve.
During October last year (2020) the team began work to enlarge and restore an old and degraded pond that was completely overgrown with willow and scrub and had sat dry for most of the year - making it less desirable to the local wildlife.
The work was carried out under the close supervision of members of the water company’s Conservation and Land Management team, as the pond was recorded historically as being home to the highly protected Great Crested Newts.
The team were able to remove the over-growing scrub while retaining mature hedgerow and dug out the sediment that had been deposited in the pond over time, returning it to a much deeper pond.
Over the last 12 months the pond at Abberton Reservoir has refilled naturally and wetland vegetation has come back thriving with the addition of wildflowers around the edges and surrounding grass.
During this summer (2021) Broadbodied Chaser dragonflies were even seen patrolling the shoreline.
Essex & Suffolk Water, Conservation and Land Advisor, Charlotte Bradley said: “Although the excavation work looked dramatic at the time, it is amazing how quickly nature restores when given a helping hand. The pond now looks fantastic and will support a whole host of wildlife over the next few years.
“As well as benefitting wildlife we hope this project and others of its kind at Abberton Reservoir will help flooding, silting and improve water quality.
“These projects also demonstrate a great working partnership with Essex Wildlife Trust and local landowners who are very engaged with the work.”