Seven derelict dew ponds have been lovingly restored and are now thriving with new life, thanks to funding from the South Downs National Park Trust.

After years of stagnation and dwindling water levels due to climate change, the dew ponds across Sussex are once again providing a haven for a range of creatures including dragonflies, toads, frogs, pond skaters and yellowhammers.

An eighth pond at Magdalen Hill Down in Winchester was also restored as part of the project which cost more than £90,000.

The Argus: Frogs are enjoying the restored dew pondsFrogs are enjoying the restored dew ponds (Image: D Middleton)

Work is due to start soon on restoring a further two ponds, near Emsworth, that will help support populations of white turtle dove.

The turnaround has been made possible by the “Pounds for Ponds” initiative launched a year ago which is looking to restore around 100 dew ponds across the South Downs National Park.

Dew ponds are synonymous with the chalk grassland of the South Downs, historically being dug by farmers as a watering hole for livestock and some dating back several hundred years.

However, over many decades and due to changes in farming practices, dozens of these wildlife oases have fallen into disrepair or been lost completely. Climate change, with warmer, drier summers mean these bodies of water are more important than ever in providing refuge and drinking water for animals.

READ MORE: Sussex national park launches green investment scheme to boost biodiversity

The Argus: Yellowhammers are loving the restored habitatYellowhammers are loving the restored habitat (Image: Anne Purkiss)

Jan Knowlson, biodiversity officer for the National Park, said: “Seeing these restored dew ponds springing back to life is absolutely amazing and just shows how nature can flourish if given the chance.

“There actually used to be around 1,000 dew ponds across the South Downs landscape, but this number has fallen dramatically over the past century.

“Restoring these bodies of water is a really good way of tackling biodiversity loss because these ponds support almost three quarters of all freshwater species found in lowland landscapes like the South Downs.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has donated to make these restorations possible and we’re excited to be able to restore even more in the future. Pounds for Ponds is just one strand of the National Park’s ongoing ReNature initiative and a concerted effort over the past three years has seen huge amounts of new habitat being created including woodlands, hedgerows, wetlands and wildflower meadows.”

One of the dew ponds that has been restored is at Chantry Hill, near Storrington.

Lead Ranger Tom Garriock recently visited it and said: “The pond is looking great. It has filled up nicely over the winter and is already providing a haven for wildlife.

"I’ve seen invertebrates such as whirligig beetles, pond skaters and water spiders on the surface of the pond, as well as farmland birds including yellowhammer and meadow pipit coming to drink. Skylark, kestrel, red kite and buzzard were much in evidence in the vicinity, and of course, the ever-curious robin.”

The full list of ponds restored is:

  • Rewell Wood, Arundel
  • Chantry Hill, near Storrington
  • Nepcote Green, Findon, near Worthing
  • Gallops Farm, Findon, near Worthing
  • The Rails, Alfriston
  • Foxhole Pond, Seven Sisters
  • Newbarn Pond, Seven Sisters
  • Magdalen Hill Down, Winchester