Temporary ponds are ponds which are a few centimetres deep, isolated from any permanent waters and not connected to any water lines. They are called temporary because they go through a periodic cycle of flooded and dry, they also have characteristic fauna and flora which is well adapted to this situation.
This ecosystems are typical from the Mediterranean basin and existed along the time together with traditional agriculture methods. The conservation of this ecosystems is very important, together with the traditional agriculture and livestock activities.
These ponds are threatened, they are ecologically fragile and their environmental value is unknown; they host a diversity and peculiarity of plants and some crustaceans which have a restricted distribution.
The Mediterranean temporary ponds are located in low depth depressions, around 50 cm, this characteristic allows the sun light to get to the bottom and then to be colonized by different kind of plants. The well preserved ponds are low in nutrients and organic material and have clear water. The water accumulates due to a less permeable soil layer.
Temporary ponds are very important because they:
- Are rich in biodiversity (hosting rare and threatened flora and fauna)
- Are single and notable sweet water habitats in all Europe
- Increase the connectivity with other sweet water habitats
- Contribute to the diversity of landscape and human well being
- Contribute to an important sweet water reservoir in climate change
- Are a European cultural patrimony, reflecting the balance between nature and human
In Portugal the temporary ponds are important habitats along the Alentejo Coast and Vicent Southwest coast (Natural Park). Although the temporary ponds are protected with several Environmental laws, they are still very fragile and threatened habitats, the mains threats are:
- Ignorance about this habitat importance
- Invasion with exotic species
- Habitat fragmentation
- Urban pressure and building
- Forestry methods
- Climate change
- Intensive livestock activities
In 2013 a project was started funded by European Union: “Life Charcos” which aims to help with the Conservation of Temporary ponds on the Southwest Coast. Learn more about it here.