Image: Volunteers building a Great Crested Newt refuge, credited to Paul Green at Threshold Photography
In March 2013 Stroud Valleys Project (SVP), an environmental charity working across the Stroud District of Gloucestershire, secured two years' funding from Biffa Award to kick start long needed habitat management, at a site neglected for more than 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 & 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.
Check out the Stroud Valleys Project website for more information on the Stonehouse Newt Ponds project and to view a series of photographs (taken by Paul Green at Threshold Photography) which capture some of the work that has already been achieved by SVP, its volunteers and students.