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Partnership work to boost rare newt numbers in Flintshire


March 20, 2024 - 401 views

Great crested newts are due to benefit from recently completed work at a protected site in Flintshire.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) officers have worked closely with colleagues from Wild Ground and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC) to restore ponds and habitats at Maes y Grug Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI) in Alltami and part of Buckley and Deeside Newt Sites Special Area of Conservation (SAC). This will create new foraging and breeding habitats for great crested newts and other amphibians.

The contractors, Arwyn Parry Construction Services Ltd, have restored a pond on site, scraped some of the existing ponds to remove overgrown vegetation and increase depth and size, and created new foraging habitat through large scale scrub removal.

Volunteers from ARC and Wild Ground have also managed the habitat around the ponds to ensure the scrub doesn’t encroach on the important habitats. This work was part of wider plans to restore at least 20 ponds across North East Wales.

Great crested newts are a European Protected Species. The animals and their eggs, breeding sites and resting places are protected by law. They are threatened by loss of breeding ponds through destruction or degradation of water quality, loss and fragmentation of terrestrial habitat and a rise in non-native invasive weeds.

Maes y Grug is situated in Alltami which is approximately 3 miles outside Mold. The site was a former colliery and consists of a large pond surrounded by deciduous woodland along with smaller ponds, marshland and grassland surrounded by pastureland. The site is protected due mainly to the presence of great crested newts.

This work is supported by the Welsh Government’s Nature Networks Fund. The fund has ambitions to strengthen the resilience of Wales’ network of protected land and marine sites, supporting nature’s recovery while actively encouraging community engagement.

This project will be highlighted this Friday (22 March) in the latest episode of ITV Wales Coast and Country.

Maria Majka, NRW Natura 2000 Sustainable Management Advisor, said:

“We are proud to have completed this work to boost great crested newt and other amphibian populations at Maes y Grug SSSI and other sites within Deeside and Buckley Newt Sites SAC and Johnstown Newt Sites SAC.

“The scale and rate of biodiversity loss across the nation is accelerating, which is why partnership projects such as this is so important in helping to arrest nature’s decline and restore it.

“The restored pond, enhancements of the existing ponds and scrub clearance will offer crucial foraging and breeding habitats.

“By working in coalition with colleagues from other organisations on projects such as this one at Maes y Grug, we help put Wales on a solid footing on the path to nature’s recovery.”

Mandy Cartwright, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, said:

“Working in partnership with Natural Resources Wales, Flintshire County Council and Wild Ground to restore and maintain vital habitats, that support the great crested newt life cycle has been a huge success at Maes y Grug.

“Without these partnerships and focused dedication we could very easily lose these declining and fragmented habitats, that so much biodiversity depends on in this challenging and changing world.”

Leah Williams, Wild Ground, said:

“We are delighted to have worked alongside partners at NRW, ARC and Flintshire County Council to deliver these habitat improvements at Maes y Grug SSSI which have been funded through Nature Networks.

“So many ponds have been lost on a landscape scale, and the work that has taken place here will support great crested newts and a wealth of other wildlife into the future. We are looking forward to seeing the site and its biodiversity continue to thrive.”