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Across Swallowtail Hill's acres there are 13 ponds and maintaining them is top of the list of conservation jobs this month.

It's a vital job that keeps the wildlife thriving. Did you know that 80% of all available wildlife in any particular ecosystem will exist in - or come to within two metres of - a body of water - this is why they are so valuable. 

Ponds are living things, so over time they can get clogged with organic debris, sometimes overgrown with water-loving trees like willow and alder, and occasionally disappear altogether. This is normal in nature, but if you want to keep wildlife ponds intact and healthily functioning you occasionally have to do some work on them. What you don't do though - and this is a mistake many people make - is clear them out entirely and start again. Every five years or so we get a digger in and gently deepen between 10% and 25% of each pond, pulling out the muck from the floor and leaving it with some gently sloping sides, and some steep ones.

Over time, each pond is carefully managed like this, while not allowing the wholesale damage caused by complete dredging. This way the aquatic wildlife - plant and creature - all survive and thrive. 

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