Cities are well known to be unfriendly to biodiversity. Species well adapted to rifling through garbage and driving out less capable competitors thrive in huge numbers, while lack of habitats means others move out of the area completely. Birds, frogs, and reptiles decrease in numbers in what was once their natural range, before urban sprawl engulfed the ponds and the wetlands.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to necessarily stay that way. Take backyard swimming pools, for example. In Sydney they are super-common in suburban areas, but it doesn’t mean they always get enough use. Older home owners who don’t have children may find themselves maintaining a pool which will get only a few swims a year. Others may be stuck with a pool they don’t want, but then filling the whole thing in isn’t very practical either. Meanwhile it consumes valuable energy resources and requires chemicals to keep it clean – all without returning little benefit.
That’s why the Ku-ring-gai council in Sydney started a lovely program called Pool to Pond – it’s an excellent way to reclaim unused pools, turning them into beautiful, lush landscape features which also serve as wildlife refuges. All one needs is to get some aquatic plants which can sit on specially located platforms, add a bunch of native fish – some of which will also happily eat mosquito larvae – and sit back as the previously boring pool grows various species of algae and ultimately turns into a little paradise for frogs, lizards, and birds. The council assists the process by providing residents with starter plants and fish, as well as advice on how best to do the conversion.
If I had a pool, I would totally do this; and you don’t have to worry about any more tree leaves settling at the bottom – in fact, that’s encouraged.