Ponds of all types are important landscape features, and are often part of the historical and cultural heritage of a region. They're vital wildlife habitats, supporting a wide variety of wetland plants and animals, many of which are becoming rare or endangered.

Ponds are defined as small bodies of water (up to 2ha in size) which hold water for at least four months of the year. Some form naturally as a result of environmental processes and others are created as a direct result of human activity.

Ponds and scrapes (shallow, more temporary water bodies) provide very important amphibian breeding sites and are used by all our native newts, frogs and toads. The best amphibian ponds tend to be the smaller, shallower ones which dry up in some years. These ponds do not support fish and tend to have fewer invertebrate tadpole predators than permanent ponds.

Each amphibian species has its own optimum pond conditions for breeding. The rare natterjack toad, for example, needs ephemeral ponds with gently shelving sides and minimal plant growth so that the tadpoles can develop rapidly in warm water with few predators. In contrast, the great crested newt prefers to breed in more permanent ponds, 500-700m2, deeper than 50cm, with lots of aquatic plants. Ideal conditions exist when emergent plants grow over 25-50% of the pond and submerged plants in 50-75% of it.