Posted: Thu 28th Mar 2024

Rare newts thriving after north east Wales pond restoration for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area

A collaborative effort is underway in north east Wales to improve the living conditions for the rare great crested newt.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Wild Ground, and the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC) have recently completed habitat restoration at the Maes y Grug Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI).

This site is integral to the Buckley and Deeside Newt Sites Special Area of Conservation (SAC), focusing on creating suitable foraging and breeding environments for these amphibians.

The project involved the restoration of a key pond on-site by Arwyn Parry Construction Services Ltd.

It included modifications to existing ponds to increase their size and depth by removing overgrown vegetation.

Additionally, the creation of new foraging areas through substantial scrub clearance has provided crucial support not only to the great crested newts but also to other amphibian species.

Facing threats from habitat loss, the degradation of breeding ponds, and the rise of non-native invasive species, the great crested newts’ survival is crucial.

The Maes y Grug site, located about 3 miles outside Mold, was once a colliery.

Today, it is a biodiversity haven, surrounded by deciduous woodland, smaller ponds, marshlands, and grasslands, safeguarded mainly due to the presence of these newts.

Supported by the Welsh Government’s Nature Networks Fund, this initiative is part of a wider ambition to enhance the resilience of Wales’ protected sites.

The project aims not only to counteract biodiversity loss but also to encourage community involvement in conservation efforts.

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, added: “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.”

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