This year COP26 is being hosted in Glasgow, and there is a lot of excitement building up for the long-awaited conference after it was postponed last year. With the climate crisis looming bigger than ever, and time for action rapidly running out, this is arguably one of the most important COPs to date. COP26 provides the perfect platform to discuss and debate, find solutions and set bold new targets, but most importantly we must use this momentum to start taking action now!
Here at Froglife we are excited to announce that we are one of the few organisations selected to run an Exhibition Stand at COP26. Our Exhibition will be a collaboration with the British Dragonfly Society, and together we will be highlighting the power of ponds! Ponds are a fantastic and highly under-rated tool in the combat against climate change. They are carbon sinks which means they reduce the levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere and consequently reduce the effects of global warming. Ponds can store and absorb carbon at unexpectedly high rates, with many ponds even able to absorb carbon at a higher rate than woodlands1. It’s not just carbon either – ponds can remove all sorts of greenhouse gases from our atmosphere. For example, two thirds of farm ponds in the UK are nitrous oxide sinks2. Nitrogen is a component of chlorophyll which is often used in farm fertiliser. When fertiliser runs into farm ponds, the algae in these ponds absorbs the nitrogen before it is able to react with oxygen in the air to become nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas which can trap heat at 300 times the rate of carbon dioxide.
Ponds can function as carbon sinks, biodiversity hotspots, educational resources, and flood mitigation amongst other things. When creating new ponds, it is always good to be clear about why you are creating it and design and manage it accordingly. To gain maximum benefit it is best to create a network of multiple different ponds that serve for different purposes.
Research into the role of ponds in combatting climate change is very promising, and ponds are such a useful tool because they are also highly actionable, with many people able to create them in their own gardens and community spaces. This is why our Exhibition will focus on teaching people all about ponds. Our key element will be a fun, interactive model pond activity using two recycled container ‘ponds’ and a number of handmade pond props. We will be encouraging people to get stuck in and have a go at creating their idea of a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ ponds, prompting discussion around why ponds are important, and what makes a good pond.
Although our main focus will be on ponds, we will also be highlighting another important threat to biodiversity at COP26; wildlife road mortality. This is a significant issue that threatens wildlife globally, with the Common Toad being at particularly high risk in the UK3. We will be immersing people into this issue through our virtual reality technology which will allow participants to view the world through the eyes of a Common Toad attempting to migrate to its breeding pond. This thought-provoking activity will not only demonstrate the problem, but also the solution offered by wildlife tunnels! Read more on this issue here: www.froglife.org/t-o-a-d-campaign
Our Exhibition Stand at COP26 is an important opportunity for us to stimulate discussion and encourage and support people to take action at home. We also want to use our platform to make your voices heard! Please send us your message for world leaders and we will share these at COP26 through an interactive ‘pond dip’ (or ‘message dip’) activity, as well as displaying them on a large screen for everyone to see.
We are really excited to talk to people about the power of ponds at COP26. We will be in the Green Zone on November 1st, so grab your free Green Zone tickets and we will see you there!
- Taylor, S., Gilbert, PJ., Cooke, DA., et al. (2019) High carbon burial rates by small ponds in the landscape. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 17(1), 25-31.
- Webb, JR., Hayes, NM., Simpson, GL. et al. (2019) Widespread nitrous oxide undersaturation in farm waterbodies creates an unexpected greenhouse gas sink. PNAS. 116(20), 9814-9819.
- Petrovan, SO., Schmidt, BR. (2016) Volunteer Conservation Action Data Reveals Large-Scale and Long-Term Negative Population Trends of a Widespread Amphibian, the Common Toad (Bufo bufo). PLOS ONE 11(10): e0161943. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0161943