“Many of the ponds have not been managed for Great Crested Newts for more than 5-10 years. For some sites, as local communities and volunteer groups change, people have forgotten that these species ever used the site,” explains Sivi Sivanesan from Froglife. “It would be a shame to see this trend continue across London, and for us to slowly lose this wonderful and protected species from all but a few key sites.”
The great crested newt is a species that can very rapidly disappear from areas where habitat conditions become unfavourable. A network of high quality ponds that are linked by suitable terrestrial habitat is key to maintaining populations at a favourable conservation status. Pond management work becomes even more important in fragmented landscapes such as those found around London. In such locations urban features such as roads and high density housing prevent newts from easily dispersing between ponds.
Ponds situated in the remaining areas of green provide an important oasis within which newts can breed. Ponds most likely to support breeding newts are those that score good or excellent on the Habitat Suitability Index first developed by Rob Oldham and colleagues at De Montfort University. A simplified version of this methodology has been published by ARG UK and more details on its use are available from Calumma Ecological Services.