Newts get a fresh start

RESULTS of work to encourage endangered wildlife to flourish in Suffolk have come under inspection.A project by Suffolk Wildlife Trust to help improve habitat for populations of the great crested newt has encouraged landowners to restore ponds that have been left to become overgrown.

RESULTS of work to encourage endangered wildlife to flourish in Suffolk have come under inspection.

A project by Suffolk Wildlife Trust to help improve habitat for populations of the great crested newt has encouraged landowners to restore ponds that have been left to become overgrown.

The great crested newt is a species that has been given international importance because it is now so rare.

When the project was launched in May, it came with an offer from the trust to visit pond sites and offer advice on how they can be made more newt-friendly.

More than 300 landowners have taken up this offer, and one of them is College Farm at Creeting St Mary.

There, farmers William and Caroline Barnes have started restoration of two of their five ponds to help encourage the return of native plants as well as the great crested newt.

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The restoration work has been carried out as part of the government funded Environmental Stewardship programme, which provides funding to help farmers improve habitats for wildlife on their land.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust pond officer Nick Meade visited College Farm this week to check on progress of one of the newly restored ponds.

"They have done exactly what we recommended," he said.

"It will be an example of change for the better for these ponds. If newts move in it shows the population is becoming more robust locally – and it means that if they lose one area of habitat they will be able to come here."

But big changes won't happen overnight and Mr Meade said landowners must be prepared to look at things long term.

"You can restore a pond but it is the long term management that makes the main difference. If we can get that going all over Suffolk then we can make a big difference to the great crested newt's survival."

Are you involved in a project to restore wildlife habitats? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

The great crested newt is Britain's largest newt species.

Numbers of the newt have dropped because they have lost much of their natural habitat.

Great crested newts can live for up to 27 years and can grow to 17cm long.

The newts are nocturnal and spend their days hiding under logs or leaves and they hibernate between October and February.

They can be found in France and other parts of Europe but are in their highest numbers in Britain.

Great crested newts are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Habitat Regulations Act of 1994. It is illegal to catch, possess or handle great crested newts without a licence and it is also illegal to cause them harm or death, or to disturb their habitat in any way.

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