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Posted by W von Papinešu on April 18, 2003 at 10:53:46:
LEWISHAM AND GREENWICH MERCURY (UK) 16 April 03 Frogs visit is no croak (Julia Lewis)
Greenwich: An amphibian charity sent its 'pond doctor' to a Charlton school to give advice on how to improve the quality of life for frogs, toads and newts.
The London Garden Pond Project, of Suffolk-based Froglife, is an initiative designed to help Londoners encourage amphibians and reptiles in their gardens and allotments.
Pond doctor Nicholas Meade visited Sherington Primary School, Wyndcliff Road, to give the school's two ponds a free health check.
Dr Meade says individuals could make a huge difference by creating suitable habitats for these creatures.
They will then enjoy the resulting wildlife and benefit from a natural form of pest control, for frogs and slow-worms are particularly fond of slugs, toads relish ants and newts gobble up mosquito larvae.
After studying the school's ponds, one of which has a longstanding newt colony, the other a newly-laid batch of frogspawn, Dr Meade's advice was to skim off the algae and introduce a greater variety of pond plants.
The ponds, he said, were dominated by only two or three plants and showing signs of 'nutrient overload'. The best way to way to prevent this and keep a pond really healthy, he advised, was to have between 10 and 15 different species of water plants.
Growing plants, the pond doctor explained, absorbed nutrients such as phosophates and nitrates and provided habitats for creatures such as water snails, leeches and pond shrimp, which recycle debris and act as water filters.
The snails also graze the algae off the surface, keeping it clear.
Dr Meade said: "It is a good idea to seed the pond with water from another, healthy, pond. Grab a bucket of water from it and bring back some of the insects."
Teacher Angela Cousins said: "The children were fascinated.
"When he pulled out the algae they went 'ugh'." The funding for the project, which aims to counter the national decline in amphibians, comes to an end in July.
The pond doctor advised around 2,000 amphibian-friendly Londoners in the west and north of the capital and is now turning his attention to the south east.
Anyone wanting a free check-up before July should contact Froglife on 01986 873733.