Making space for wildlife 07/04/22 Nicola Craven, Development Manager One of the core purposes of Nene Park Trust is to conserve and safeguard wildlife, and we know that this is close to the heart of many of our visitors and volunteers. This year we are going to create two new crested newt ponds in the Park, one at Ferry Meadows on Ham Mere and one at Thorpe Meadows. Great crested newts are the UK’s largest newt species, adults can reach 17cm in length and live up to 15 years. They are much darker in colour than other newt species and have bumpy skin. Their population has declined and its range has shrunk in recent years and so we are really excited about helping this protected species thrive in the Park. Like all amphibians’ newts take to the water to reproduce. Their breeding season is between March and June. The rest of the year the newts spend time on land so it’s important to have good surrounding habitat. This can include woodland, scrub or rough grassland, a good hedge network is another important factor to help the newts move around the landscape, all of which we have in abundance in the Park. It’s not just great crested newts that will benefit. Ponds support an extraordinary two thirds of all freshwater species; creating clean new ponds is one of the simplest and most effective ways to protect freshwater wildlife. Other species this work will benefit include common frog, teal, common great diving beetle, pond olive mayfly, blue-tailed damselfly and broad-leaved pondweed, to name just a few. Look out for the diggers in September as they start the excavation, we hope to follow this with some family and community planting days to provide pollinators and plant habitat ready for the newts to move in! We are working in partnership with The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire to undertake the work and would like to thank them and the support provided by Natural England.