Partnership work will help to boost rare newt population at Newport Wetlands

Great Crested Newt lava

An exciting restoration project between Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) will help to boost numbers of great crested newt at Newport Wetlands National Nature Reserve.

A network of six new ponds were created in February this year, which will help to restore and create new foraging and breeding habitats for the species. Last year, four existing ponds were 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 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 dried up by late spring, meaning the larvae would have perished before metamorphosis, having an impact on their numbers. 

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 contractors 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.

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 preexisting 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 from Williams Contracting said:

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 1st ponds I've dug. I've dug plenty of ditches, but never ponds. 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.