Since their appointment by Natural England almost two years ago, Sheffield based environmental consultancy Wildscapes CIC have delivered in the region of 100 ponds across South Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Derbyshire. Due to continued success, a further 25 ponds will be created within South Yorkshire this winter.
The work forms part of the Natural England led District Level licensing scheme for great crested newts (GCN). This new scheme to South Yorkshire means that when a proposed development is likely to impact on GCN habitat, developers now have the option of a quicker and simpler alternative to the traditional GCN mitigation licence. Since its launch earlier this year, the scheme has not only benefited developers in terms of certainty on costs and timescales, but has provided multiple new ponds for the benefit of GCN.
During the 20th century half of the UK’s ponds were lost, primarily due to the change in land use away from mixed farming, and the remaining ponds are considered to be in a poor state. This has been identified as the key factor in the decline of GCN populations. Not only does the District Level licensing scheme aid the development process, it aims to secure the long term protection of this species and their habitat.
As the habitat delivery partner for the region, Wildscapes CIC aim to create new ponds in the most suitable locations to allow the newts to thrive. This is done through consultation with Natural England’s identified strategic opportunity areas, local knowledge and GCN records. Ponds are constructed within close proximity to known GCN populations and ideally in between several different GCN populations to promote breeding. All these ponds are maintained and monitored by Wildscapes CIC in South Yorkshire for 25 years.
Steven Greenwood, Conservation Contracts Manager for Wildscapes CIC, comments: ‘We’re delighted that the scheme is off to great start in South Yorkshire and that there is a need for more ponds so soon following the batches we’ve created over the last couple of years. We’ve
received a huge amount of interest from landowners across the region offering their land to support the creation of GCN habitat and from those looking to play their part in the preservation of this protected species’.
Fully funded by Natural England, landowners are not asked to contribute financially to the pond creation/ restoration (or suitable livestock fencing if required), but simply to take a few basic measures to protect the habitat quality of the pond. The need for suitable land will be ongoing and interested parties are encouraged to contact Wildscapes CIC to discuss potential sites for consideration.
More information can be found here; https://wildscapes.co.uk/pond-creation