Slovenian Cases

The Ecological Network of Ponds

an example of efficient communication between local community and state institution for restoration of ponds, and their incorporation into pedagogical processes

public participation

Ponds are almost the sole bodies of stagnant water in the area of Karst and Istria. Consequently, they represented an important source of water for humans, plants and animals for centuries.



Building of ponds is tightly connected with the needs of humans and cattle for permanent source of water. The ponds are good retainers of water even in the dry part of a year, and they also purify water. A t the same time, a network of ponds is an important living environment for special plant and animal species.


The changes in the life style (permanent water supply, abandoning of cattle breeding) in the last few decades have caused drying up of the ponds. Slowly, disappearing of ponds have also caused disappearance of unique ecosystems with some specific and rare animal and plant species. All the ponds in the area are crucially connected into the network, because plant and animal species, which are dependant on them, cannot successfully multiply if the distances between the single ponds are too large.

Photo: Tamara Celhar
Project and results
A recognition that ponds are important natural and cultural heritage resulted in numerous initiatives for their restoration and maintenance that have appeared in the last decade. Soon after the first ponds were ecologicaly restored, positive response and good collaboration of local community encouraged carrying out the project “101 ponds - stable ecological network” by the Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Nature Conservation, Regional Office Piran. By the end of 2003, various material about the ponds was collected and a book “Restoring the ponds” was published. Book is the result of common efforts of local community, experts, and some governmental and non-governmental organisations. The restoration of ponds continues, because only the network of ponds can assure long term preservation of biodiversity in the area.

To ensure preservation of ponds in this area it is necessary to find them new fuinctions. There are the ideas about including ponds into cultural - tourist offer, especially if they are close to main tourist and hiking paths. Very interesting are also initiatives about including the ponds into pedagogical and science-research processes. Ponds that are close to primary and high schools can serve as open laboratories: pupils can directly encounter water and waterside plants and animals, study characteristics of food chain, recognise human impacts on environment, carry out various physical and chemical experiments, observe water circle, learn methods of terrain work, etc. Ponds can serve as efficient teaching tools, where pupils can learn directly from their own experience by observing the richness and complexity of nature. Knowledge received through direct experiences is much more efficient then the knowledge children get from books or from lectures. Experiences can also help forster environmental consciusness among the youngest pupils.

With a similar goal the project “The wetlands’ day is also a day of ponds” was realised in some primary and high schools in the beginning of 2005. Purpose of the action was to provide information and raise the awareness about the importance of the wetlands with a special stress on the ponds, as well as to invite the children to actively participate in the preservation of the ponds and environment in general.

Photo: Zvona Ciglic

Further information
Restoration of a pond is the first step for preservation of biodiversity, but for its appropriate maintenance it must get a new purpose. Possible option is including the ponds into pedagogical activities of educational establishments.


Can a handful of restored ponds assure preservation of rare and endangered plant and animal species?


Prepared by:
IIDE – Institute for Integral Development and Environment (Marta Vahtar, Maja Zdesar and Miran Rusjan)