In October 2017, following a successful public consultation, the largest natural pond in the park was fenced off and a field gate added. Prior to this, the pond had been unable to provide a home for freshwater species due to our four-legged friends swimming in it. Stage One of the project was achieved using funds kindly donated by Knaresborough Lions’ Centennial Community Fund, and Harrogate Borough Council Commuted Sums.
The fenced off pond in Jacob Smith Park now has the potential to be a perfect habitat to support a variety of UK freshwater species which are in dramatic decline (www.freshwaterhabitats.org.uk), and by doing so the Knaresborough community will be contributing to conserving British ecological heritage, whilst providing educational opportunities for all ages in the future, particularly children and young people.
A leading North Yorkshire Ecologist, Martin Hammond, carried out a baseline survey of the pond with recommendations which will help ensure the pond thrives. This includes the removal of silt build up before spring 2018, and the management of silt in future years.
A boardwalk and pond dipping platform were installed at the wildlife pond in December 2018. A grant has also been secured by The Friends of JSP to provide volunteers with pond ecology training in 2019, and enable the purchase of pond dipping equipment. The dipping platform will provide a ‘safe’ area for local children and young people to stand on and take samples from the pond (under appropriate supervision) and explore them, so they can learn about wildlife habitats (as part of science investigations) in ‘a hands-on’ way
We are incredibly thankful to a number of organisations and individuals who have been especially supportive of this phase of the project. Special thanks go to Councillor Zoe Metcalfe (£3,000 locality budget); Knaresborough Youth Fund (£2,500); Harrogate Borough Council (£1,060); local businesses who wish to remain anonymous (£326) and private donations (£38).
Huge thanks also to Harrogate Borough Council’s Countryside Ranger Sam Walker for his continued support with this exciting project.
Staying in touch
The Friends of Jacob Smith Park are committed to consulting with members of the public about their park. This means bringing them the latest news on all park enhancement projects like the pond. News will be posted here on the website and through social media, the park noticeboard and email group (please contact us if you would like to join the confidential email list), and local media where possible. We also have three public meetings a year and everyone is welcome to attend these and share their views and ideas.
Please read our Polite Pond Notice.
Volunteer training, pond dipping and survey
Friends of Jacob Smith Park volunteers, including local youngsters, have taken part in a pond ecology training event.
As well as providing an overview of pond habitats and creatures living in them, ecologist Andrew Westgarth’s fascinating session at the park’s wildlife pond saw the team of eight assisting with a Great Crested Newt Habitat Survey. A pond dip was also carried out, using equipment fundraised for by The Friends, with Andrew giving advice on best techniques to keep pond inhabitants and dippers safe!
Jo Smalley, Secretary of The Friends, said: “We were shocked how many freshwater species are living in the pond. It is lovely we can provide a beautiful space, with support from volunteers and our HBC countryside ranger, to help nature thrive so well and give us the opportunity to learn together.”
The Great Crested Newt habitat survey revealed the pond to be an excellent potential home. Subsequent water samples taken by Young Friends from the pond for eDNA analysis, under countryside ranger supervision, came back positive for Great Crested Newt DNA. It is hoped that there will be breeding pairs. Volunteers are to apply for their Science and Conservation Licenses from Natural England, due to Great Crested Newts being a protected species.
To keep up-to-date with pond life and discover more about the species found so far, check out our Pondlife section.