Support our Nation today - please donate here

Project underway to boost rare newt population at nature reserve

28 Apr 2024 4 minute read
Great Crested Newt larva

A restoration project is underway to boost the numbers of great crested newt at a nature reserve.

The project at Newport Wetlands National Nature Reserve, is a partnership between Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC).

It has already created a network of six new ponds in February this year, which will help to restore and create new foraging and breeding habitats for the newts. Last year, four existing ponds were also restored on the reserve.

Great crested newts are a European Protected Species and their eggs, breeding sites and resting places are protected by law.

They are threatened by the loss of breeding ponds through destruction or degradation of water quality, loss and fragmentation of their terrestrial habitat and a rise in non-native invasive weeds.

The newts were previously known to breed at a shallow pond at Goldcliff Lagoons on the reserve. But in 2021 and 2022 the pond had dried up by late spring, meaning the larvae would have perished before metamorphosis, having an impact on their numbers.

Valuable habitat

It is hoped that the new network of ponds will help to boost their population, as well as providing valuable habitat for other species of amphibians and dragonflies.

The ponds will also provide reservoirs of drinking water for farm stock which graze on the reserve.

The work was carried out by local contractor Des Williams of Williams Contracting, whose family have farmed in the area for generations.

Kevin Boina M’Koubou Dupé, Land Management officer for Natural Resources Wales said: “It’s really great to be able to work in partnership with colleagues from ARC to be able to carry out this work to boost great crested newts and other amphibian populations at Newport Wetlands.

“The scale and rate of biodiversity loss across the nation is accelerating, which is why partnership projects such as this are so important.

“The new ponds and enhancements of existing ponds will offer crucial foraging and breeding habitats.

“By working with colleagues from other organisations on projects like this, we help play our part in helping wildlife to thrive and support nature’s recovery.”

Ponds being dug at Newport Wetlands

Peter Hill, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation said: “Collaborative projects such as this are vital so as to be able to bolster populations of declining species such as the great crested newt.

“As the recently restored and newly created ponds mature, and plants and invertebrates establish themselves, the resulting restored corridor of increased foraging and breeding opportunities, will enable a stronger population of newts to establish, more resilient to the many challenges and threats posed to amphibians surviving in modern Wales.

“Recruitment levels of newts successfully metamorphosing are likely to have risen already, since the first phase of the project restoring pre-existing ponds, so completing this second phase, creating strategically placed new ponds, will “join up the dots” and provide opportunities for a nationally declining species to proliferate.

“Projects like this are part of the “front line” action of the Nature recovery programme.”

Des Williams added:“I was born, grew up, work and still live on the Gwent Levels. I’ve always been interested in wildlife, so it’s been very satisfying to be involved in this project.

“I’ve been an agricultural contractor all my working life. These are the first ponds that I have dug. There are several ponds in the area and these were dug by hand, maybe a hundred years ago. It’s good to be digging some new ponds that will help great crested newts and other wildlife.”

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.