God has given us glorious gifts in nature, but we have to learn how to nurture and conserve our heritage. We neglect or abuse the natural world at our peril.
This may seem to be a contemporary issue that we are just beginning to grapple with, but as long ago as 1976 a group of local residents were seriously concerned about the deterioration of the Fleet Pond area and came together to form the Fleet Pond Society. Since then the Society has put hundreds of volunteer hours into turning the area into the beautiful nature reserve it is today.
In the early days a circular path was built, two steel bridges installed, a large concrete jetty built at Chestnut Grove, and an observation platform constructed overlooking the Wellington Reedbed.
However before long the Society turned its attention to restoring and improving the diversity of wildlife habitat. Heathland was cleared of invading pine and birch trees, marshes were cleared of invasive alder and sallow trees, and scrub and woodland was thinned to bring more light to ground flora. Thanks to the dedication and hard work of volunteers, conservation work has continued for more than thirty years to benefit the wildlife.
The popularity of Fleet Pond with local people has meant a very delicate balancing act has always been necessary to ensure that people can fully enjoy the Pond without the noise, disturbance and trampling feet damaging sensitive wildlife areas. So far the good footpaths and “hot spots” like the picnic site and the beach with seats at Sandy Bay have helped keep this balance. As Fleet and neighbouring towns grow, this will become increasingly difficult, but Fleet Pond Society intends to be there to help.
Mr Colin Gray, Chairman of Fleet Pond Society, came to our Harvest Thanksgiving Service to talk about the Pond and to make us aware of the challenges facing the Society. It is easy to take this precious local asset for granted, but to preserve it for future generations we need to treat it with respect and restraint.
(Photos: Colin Gray and Flickr)