Restoring and enlarging the pond

Spring 2023

Table of contents

    Back in Spring 2023, our partners at the Shropshire Wildlife Trust created a new pond to help support the local population of great crested newts. One year later, we’re taking a look back at the project to see how the pond is maturing and who has been benefiting from this new habitat.

    Great crested newts are a charismatic species with their vibrant orange bellies, spotty flanks and wavy crests but sadly their population is declining due to habitat loss. Newts are amphibians and require ponds to breed in the spring but spend most of the rest of the year feeding on invertebrates in woodland, hedgerows and tussocky grassland. Based on this understanding of their ecology, we can distill their habitat requirements into ten key features including size of the pond, macrophyte cover, waterfowl abundance, and the type of surrounding habitat. This produces a habitat suitability index on a of scale between 0 and 1 with suitability categorised as poor <0.5, below average 0.5-0.59, average 0.6-0.69, good 0.7-0.79, or excellent >0.8.

    We took a baseline score before carrying out any works for the area which unsurprisingly rated habitat suitability as poor with a score of 0.26. Once the pond was complete, the survey was repeated with a score of 0.68 making our newly created pond of average suitability. The key areas of change that led to improved habitat suitability were:

    1. Increasing the area of the pond from 25 m2 to 80 m2.

    2. Deepening the pond to increase water retention and avoid annual drying.

    3. Improving the water quality.

    As the pond matures and the Shropshire Wildlife Trust carries out more pond creation in the area, we expect to see the habitat suitability index increase further. It’s not unusual for newts to take up to five years to naturally colonise newly created ponds but in the meantime plenty of other amphibians are moving in with reports of lots of frogs and toads successfully spawning there this spring.