What’s in a Pond?

Are Inverness drainage ponds supporting biodiversity and community health? Marcia Rae, Graduate Research Assistant – SuDS for Highland Council, looks at the benefits these drainage systems can give to urban living.

Common frog in a garden pond. ©Lorne Gill

Common frog in a garden pond. ©Lorne Gill

The urban environment is increasing at an ever-faster rate and soon more than half the world’s population will be living in cities. This growth is particularly obvious in the Highland City of Inverness, one of the fastest growing cities in Europe, where there has been a large expansion to the south and east. This increasing urbanisation brings into question whether the cities we are building are supporting the health and wellbeing of their residents. Studies in recent years have shown that urban environments can contribute to physical and mental health problems among local residents. It’s no secret that obesity and depression are on the rise. So what can we do about this?

Research has also shown that contact with nature can counteract some of the negative effects linked with the urban environment. But how do we bring more nature in to our cities? There are a number of ways to do this, for instance planting more trees and creating green roofs. In Inverness there is already great potential to encourage nature, for roughly 20 years now new development in the area has been adding little pockets of nature to the city through Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS).

Inshes Park pond in Inverness.

Inshes Park pond in Inverness.

These are systems designed to deal with surface water close to its source and slow down its flow into nearby rivers, to prevent flooding, and they usually take the form of detention basins or ponds. There are now 40 SuDS ponds and detention basins in the Inverness area which have the ability to support wildlife within the city. A study in 2015 by Scottish Natural Heritage and Highland Council found that 75% of these sites were supporting amphibian species along with a variety of other wildlife.

Sunset on Inshes Park SuDS pond, Inverness

Sunset on Inshes Park SuDS pond, Inverness.

It seems SuDS are certainly bringing nature into closer contact with people. But how are local people interacting with these sites? Is there a SuDS pond near you? Do you know if there are any animals living in it? Do you think they are a good idea? Let us know what you think by following the link below.

Public Perception of SuDS Questionnaire https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/LWW6GGN

You can find more information about the project here.

Or contact Marcia Rae, email marcia.rae@highland.gov.uk

Photos by Marcia Rae unless stated otherwise.

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