Sheffield environmental consultancy reaches milestone 50 ponds created in great crested newts scheme


Fifty new ponds have now been created in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire over the past 14 months as part of a scheme to increase great crested newt habitats (GCN) in the region.  The milestone 50th pond is based at Thrybergh Country Park in Rotherham as part of a memorial garden that is being created to honour COVID-19 victims.

Sheffield-based environmental consultancy Wildscapes CIC was appointed by Natural England and DEFRA to be the lead delivery contractor for the creation or restoration of a number of great crested newt ponds in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire.

Steven Greenwood, Conservation Contracts Manager for Wildscapes on the Great Crested Newts scheme, explains: “During the 20th Century, half of the UK’s ponds were lost and this has led to the serious decline of the great crested newts population.  This scheme is designed to support the development process to create more habitats and to secure the long-term protection of this important, protected species.”

Steven adds: “It is very fitting that our 50th pond is also one that is going to have such an important place in the heart of people as they remember loved ones who have lost their lives to COVID.”

The scheme is fully funded by Natural England and Wildscapes CIC is looking for farmers and landowners who would like to have ponds created or restored on their land. These ponds are required to be a minimum size of 150m2.  Wildscapes CIC will carry out all pond creation/restoration works (including adding suitable fencing if required) and all landowners are asked to do is to take a few basic measures to protect the habitat quality of the pond.  Wildscapes will carry out maintenance and monitoring visits on a periodic basis over 25 years.

This project is part of a national strategy to bolster great crested newt populations in stronghold areas and allow Local Authorities to undertake landscape scale management of the population through District Level Licencing.   It is anticipated that Natural England will fund the creation/restoration of over 500 ponds ideally suited for GCN.

Facts on pond loss

  • 50% of the UK’s ponds were lost during the 20th century, whilst the majority of remaining ponds are classed as being in a poor state.
  • Many ponds are man-made and were mainly lost from our landscape due to land use change; in particular, the move away from mixed farming that occurred from the early 1960s.
  • Modelling shows that it is the loss of these ponds that has been the main factor in the decline of GCN.

Landowners/farmers in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire are encouraged to contact Wildscapes to discuss the suitability of their land for the project. More information can be found here; https://wildscapes.co.uk/pond-creation

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