Photo of ‘Claremont Garden’s Pond’ – taken by author (Shannon Barkley-Nakajima)

A new pond brings biodiversity and attracts locals to ‘Latchmere rec’

By Shannon Barkley-Nakajima (Surbiton High School)

For years, Latchmere Recreation Ground, commonly known as, ‘the rec,’ by local residents, has been the soul of Kingston, drawing kids from two local primary schools as well as two secondary schools situated within walking distance. The park includes well-kept utilities, and to top that has recently opened a café aptly named ‘The Latch.’ The park is a 9-acre, public open ground with an inviting and fun-filled children’s playground located by the entrance, next to two well-tamed grassy fields accommodating a green space for sporting activities, dog walks and much more…

Excitingly, the park has now welcomed a new pond named ‘Claremont Garden’s Pond,’ at the end of the green fields; the pond doesn’t interfere with any previous construction but has been considerably thought out, so it can thrive in a secluded area, away from the hustle and bustle of sporting activities on the adjacent greenery and tucked away from nearby social activity. This provides an idyllic habitat for species such as toads, pond snails, birds, dragon flies, grass snakes, etc. amongst the natural plantation including a variety of trees, shrubs and an abundance of flowers!

‘Claremont Garden’s Pond,’ has proven to be popular having invited hundreds of new visitors daily and is nested within an enclosed garden protected by fencing to ensure your furry friends don’t disrupt the wonderful and diverse habitat created there and that unsupervised children are kept safe. However, a bespoke pond-dipping platform is provided to get a close-up view of the species and their adaptation to their new home. The pond proudly sits in the North- West corner of the ‘rec,’ where it receives the warm glow from the sun, yet subtle shade from existing native trees.

The pond presents opportunities for wildlife talks from botanical advisors and Dofe activities for older students which are planned for the near future to make the most of this amazing creation! It also opens up doors for children to explore and is an educational benefit as they can learn about the natural food chain as well as appreciate the habitat in a safe surrounding.

The community who carefully planned out the construction of the pond and the surrounding wildlife is known as ‘FoLar’ (Friends of Latchmere Rec). They have come together to highlight the ecological benefits the pond will bring for decades to come, and how every little change makes a huge difference when people come together and encourage the worthwhile investment by proposing ideas such as this to increase bio-diversity which was the key aim of ‘Claremont Garden’s Pond.’ The significance of the pond has been highlighted by the fact that the UK is one of the least bio-diverse nations ranked 189th out of 218 (according to the 2019 State of Nature report) leading to a decline of biodiversity caused by several different factors.

The creation of the pond and support it has received has brought not only ecological change but has provided social benefit allowing a quiet, tranquil and peaceful spot to reflect and unwind all year round. This is shown by a review from a local visitor, Florence Robinson (14) who saw the pond for the first time, leaving positive feedback, “Me and Sydney [her dog] always love to come here for her daily dog walk but this is my first time over at the pond and it looks great so far. I loved just watching the movement of the wildlife whilst sipping my hot chocolate from the new café, it was super relaxing. Yeah, I’ll definitely bring my parents here!”

So why not grab a coffee and cake at ‘The Latch,’ and take a moment to unwind by ‘Claremont Garden’s Pond,’ on the new, bespoke bench provided and enjoy the view whilst you immerse yourself in the nature that abounds!