WILDLIFE watchers in Helensburgh are set to welcome three new ponds to the recently refurbished Hermitage Park in an attempt to boost biodiversity.

Work is continuing to restore the park to a central role in the community, and Friends of Hermitage Park, the volunteer group leading the regeneration project, recently received financial backing for their latest plans.

The Friends have been awarded an ‘Action Earth Volunteering Matters’ grant of £250 towards materials and supporting volunteers for the construction of a wildlife pond, supplementing an earlier award of £2,000 from the Health and Wellbeing Fund.

A series of three ponds will be created where the old toilet block was, creating a valuable new habitat for frogs, newts and insects and potentially attracting more birds.

Chair of the group, Fiona Baker, hopes the new additions will make a big difference.

She said: “Before we started work in the park we had a biodiversity audit carried out with the help of local group ‘Transition Town Helensburgh’ and found that the park actually had much lower biodiversity than one would think for a large parkland area.

“Whilst we have the lovely Millig Burn there is currently no still water in the park to provide a habitat for frogs, newts, dragonflies and encourage bird life.

“We have taken several measures to address this, including the Wildlife Hotel, and one of the main improvements is the creation of a series of three interconnected wildlife pools, the largest of which will have a viewing and dipping platform suitable for all ability access.

“The ponds will not only be lovely to look at, they will improve biodiversity in the park enormously and will also be a great educational resource.”

Local clubs and volunteers have already offered a helping hand to the project, with a lot of work still to do before the pond liner can be installed. Building work for the dipping platform is expected to begin later in November.

Melissa Simpson, Hermitage Park manager, wants to see as many people as possible of all abilities come along to help their activity and create what they hope will be a valuable new asset.

She said: “The Volunteering Matters Action Earth grants are designed to help groups of volunteers take practical action to improve and create places for wildlife and everybody can get involved in their local outdoor spaces.

“They are a shared resource and a shared responsibility. From the smallest individual action to a national campaign, every contribution helps.”

Volunteering Matters Action Earth will be supporting around 170 projects in Scotland in 2018 with grant awards of up to £500.

If you would like to take part, please contact the Friends via the ‘Helensburgh Hermitage Park’ Facebook page or call park manager Melissa Simpson on 01436 658989.