Vital clearance operation safeguards Carrick pond

At work on the pond in Bashfordsland.
At work on the pond in Bashfordsland.

A small pond at a popular Carrickfergus woodland area has been converted into a larger, muddier one to safeguard its future.

One of the three Bashfordsland ponds, it was cleared of two very unwanted plants: New Zealand Pygmy Weed (Crassula hemsii) and South African Curly Waterweed (Lagarosiphon major).

The bare clay areas will be planted or sown after the weed removing operation.

The bare clay areas will be planted or sown after the weed removing operation.

The successful operation was thanks to the ‘Live Here, Love Here’ fund, Mid and East Antrim Council, an excavator and a very capable operator.

Phil Allen, of Friends of Bashfordsland and Oakland Glen Local Nature Reserve, explained: “These weeds were present in all three ponds on Bashfordsland, and if left would cover them and ruin them for Northern Ireland native pond plants and pond snails, insects such as the water boatman and amphibians.

“The heron, seen in spring each year, would have lost a major source of food. Pond dipping expeditions would be no more.

“Regular monitoring will be necessary, just to check no plants remain. While the other ponds contain them, there is a chance re-infection will occur.

“The grant includes a sum for deep water plants and marginals. The bare clay areas by the pond will be planted or sown with native trees and wild flowers.”

Launched by councils, Housing Executive, Choice Housing, McDonald’s and Keep Northern Beautiful, the Live Here, Love Here scheme offers grants from £500 to £5,000 and is open to volunteer and community groups, all school and third-level education organisations, youth groups and sports clubs undertaking civic pride projects. The Bashfordsland project was one of five in Carrick to secure funding this year.

The Friends of Bashfordsland and Oakfield Glen Local Nature Reserve meets on the second Saturday each month at Oakfield Community Centre at 10:00am.

Phil added: “We do different tasks each month. From tending to wildflower rich grassland to Xmas wreath making.

“Please join us! We need all the help we can get. All welcome, but children must be accompanied by an adult. Contact: parks@midandeastantrim.gov.uk or phone 02893 8231.”