Stonehouse Newt Pond
Saving the Dragon in Stonehouse!
Stroud Valleys Project and its now web-footed Thursday volunteers have been hard at work clearing out reed from the main breeding pond. This work, as the picture shows, has been long overdue and it is the first time in 15 years that a large amount of reed has been literally ‘cut out’. Reed is floated to the side of the pond’s bank where it is left for a week to allow any aquatic life to move back into the pond. The reed cuttings are then moved by wheelbarrow a short distance from the main pond where they will compost down naturally.
The reasoning behind this clearance of reed growth is that if it is allowed to continue trees will eventually grow in the thick rich silt and also, most importantly, ‘open areas’ for newt courtship rituals will be lost and subsequently newt numbers at the site may decline. Although the clearance work looks radical at this moment in time it is hoped that by clearing a large area now the long-term management of the main pond will be made a little easier.
The Wednesday team, not to be out done by their Thursday group comrades, have been working in partnership with ‘All Pulling Together’ in Stonehouse, where they have cleared out an old pond in preparation for an SVP event, built a small decking platform by the pond (a very professional job!), and built a number of bird boxes from recycled timber.
A really big ‘THANK YOU’ goes out to all the volunteers who have worked tirelessly over the past few months making the much needed pond work achievable.
2013 Biffa Award
In March 2013 Stroud Valleys Project secured two years funding from Biffa Award to kick start long needed habitat management, at a site neglected for over a decade that has a ‘good’ Great Crested Newt population.
The Biffa Award funding has allowed SVP’s project officer to guide 20 students and volunteers involved in managing this ‘wildlife oasis’ – an important site with potential county level designation due to its population of Great Crested Newts.
Clare Mahdiyone, Chief Executive said of the project, "Having the Biffa Award funding at the newt ponds has opened up additional opportunities for the organisation. For example, having access to a wildlife site that has a Great Crested newt population means that some staff and volunteers required newt handling licences. We were delighted when a local ecological consultancy firm, Cresswell (an operating division of Hyder Consulting), got involved in the project and provided the support, advice and training to enable SVP staff to acquire their licences."
At the heart of SVP’s work with its diverse groups of volunteers and students has been habitat management that is both sensitive and not intrusive to the newt population and other wildlife that uses, lives or passes through the different mosaics of habitat that make up Stonehouse Newt Ponds and local green spaces.
The organisation has been working with two different mid-week volunteer groups: ‘The Green Team’, a group of students experiencing mid and long-term mental health issues, and an open group of volunteers made up of people from all walks of life.
The work and achievements of all involved has had both a positive effect for wildlife and SVP’s volunteers and students, giving them a sense of wellbeing, improved self esteem and confidence, whilst gaining knowledge through the work to restore and enhance habitat for Britain’s largest newt species.
The series of photographs (all credited to Paul Green at Threshold Photography) shown on this webpage capture and celebrate some of the work that has already been achieved by SVP and its volunteers and students.
Also, see here