The Parish Council own the Friston Pond and over the years it had become overgrown and contaminated with various forms of intrusive weed as well as water lilies. In particular the invasive plant Australian Stone Crop (crassula helmsii) had taken a stranglehold. This plant:-
- is suited to slow moving freshwater systems
- out competes native species
- forms dense carpets choking ponds and ditches
- reduces light levels which can cause die off of waterweeds and algae and reduce water oxygenation levels
Following an extensive assessment of the pond condition, and with support from the Rangers of the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) a successful application was made in 2012 to the Sustainable Communities Fund of the SDNPA for a grant to allow rejuvenation of the Pond, returning it to its former glory. The grant amounted to £12,375 and the Parish Council made further limited contributions as necessary.
A Pond Rejuvenation Project was set up and a full environmental survey by Rangers of the SDNPA was undertaken. No protected wildlife was found and a three-week work programme was planned with PHB Contractors carrying out the main tasks, with volunteer support.
The total Project also included the provision of interpretive boards describing the history of the pond and the flora and fauna, as well as a dipping platform for children under supervision.
The Work Programme
The initial three-week work programme started on 26 November 2012 and during the first week of operations the following activities were undertaken:-
- site set-up including erecting fence around the site, setting up pump
- collecting aquatic samples and placing in holding tank
- pumping out the Pond
· preparing temporary silt storage area in nearby paddock
· de-silting pond and carting to nearby paddock
· fitting new gullies
Work progressed better than planned during Week 1 and the de-silting work was completed ahead of schedule. During Week 2 the removed silt was left to (partially) dry out pending removal, and access to the pond was reinstated.
During Week 3 the following activities were completed:-
- placing pads for decking
- loading silt deposits for site removal and tidying paddock
- reinstating aquatic samples into pond
- removal or site fencing
- fitting dipping deck
The main work was completed on schedule. Many, many thanks to all the volunteers for their tremendous support for the whole Project. It really was a community project.
The pond refilled naturally. It may not have looked that appealing at first (as expected) but the spring warmth soon brought the plants back to life. Improvements were quick and later in 2013 the pond was in full recovery.
Pictures taken during the Project are on the Gallery 2 page the THE PARISH above.
The Riddle of Friston Pond
Where does the water come from? Is the pond spring fed? All we know is that despite no rainfall over 2 separate 3 day periods during the renovation, the water extent increased consistently on both occasions by 400mm (approx. 15inches). Naturally with heavy rain the pond increased hugely, but why did it keep on increasing over dry periods and where did the eel come from………. a spring??
And Finally ..... the Official Re-opening (a summary statement)
East Dean and Friston Parish Council held an inaugural event on 4 July 2013 to celebrate the completion of the Friston Pond project. The Pond, which is owned by the Parish Council, had become overgrown and contaminated with various forms of intrusive and invasive weed. A Rejuvenation Project was set up; the site was fenced off, wildlife was removed from the pond and placed in holding tanks, and the pond drained and dredged. The pond refilled naturally and the wildlife was returned to its former home. A dipping platform was constructed and interpretive noticeboards were erected. The ceremony was attended by residents and parish councillors, and the ribbon was ceremoniously cut by District Councillor Charles Peck, who is also a member of the South Downs National Park Authority.
The project was supported with up to £12,375 from the SDNPA’s Sustainable Community Fund. Ken Bodfish, Chair of the Fund, said: “It has been wonderful to see the work that the local community and South Downs Volunteer Rangers have put in to restoring this ancient dew pond and sharing the story of its long history and wildlife with visitors to the South Downs. As the pond matures, the plants grow and wildlife re-colonises, I am sure that people exploring this part of the National Park will stop off and appreciate their achievements and the great educational resource they have created.”