PONDERFUL: POND Ecosystems for Resilient FUture Landscapes in a changing climate
The name says it all, given that the project is all about pond ecosystems. Studies suggest that, because of their abundance, heterogeneity, biodiversity and biogeochemical potency, ponds play an important role in mitigating the impacts of climate change.
Under the leadership of the University of Vic (Spain), researchers from eleven countries – including Thomas Mehner and Luc De Meester from the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) in Berlin – are investigating what benefits ponds and pondscapes have to offer in tackling climate change, conserving biodiversity and providing ecosystem services to mankind.
Because of their small size, the significance of ponds has long been underestimated and they lie largely outside regulatory systems in administration and politics. However, research over the last 10 to 15 years has shown that, thanks to their abundance, heterogeneity, exceptional biodiversity, inherent naturalness and biogeochemical potency, ponds play an important role in catchments, landscapes, and potentially even at continental scales – what is completely out of proportion to their small size.
Image: Thomas Mehner
Ponds contain 30 to 50 percent of the world’s standing waters and give habitat to 70 percent of regional freshwater species in Europe, of which many are rare, endemic or threatened. Moreover, ponds play a significant role in mitigating and adapting to climate change and deliver multiple ecosystem services such as carbon processing and storage, water provisioning, flood control, groundwater recharge, and recreational benefits. However, in the course of the 20th century, 50 to 90 percent of ponds got lost in European countries.
Thus, the overarching aim of the PONDERFUL project is to develop improved methods for sustainably using, managing and conserving ponds and pondscapes. Research in PONDERFUL will increase understanding of the ways in which ponds, as nature-based solution (NBS), can contribute to mitigate and adapt to climate change, protect biodiversity and ensure ecosystem services.
The project has five main components:
- Develop a strategic approach to engagement with stakeholders, to ensure that they are able to effectively implement the benefits of ponds as nature-based solutions
- Generate extensive new biodiversity and ecosystem services datasets, to better establish the relationship between pond biodiversity and the delivery of ecosystem services
- Establish predictive models that enable us to test and optimise practical scenarios for the design and use of ponds and nature-based solutions in the context of global warming
- Create a set of demonstration sites across Europe which show to practitioners and policy makers how ponds can help to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change
- Ensure that the project’s outputs are widely known to policy makers, practitioners and other stakeholders
The project is led by the University of Vic (Spain) and brings together experienced researchers from nine European states and from Turkey and Uruguay. It started in December 2020, and runs for four years. IGB is one of 18 project partners who are working together to deliver this important and innovative project.
PONDERFUL is a H2020 “Research and Innovation Programme” project funded by the European Union within the Call “Inter-relations between climate change, biodiversity and ecosystem services”.