Pond works - January/February 2022

During late January and into early February, improvements are being made to the pond area at Abbey Field. The original pond which was found to be infested with an invasive pond plant called, Crassula helmsii, is being drained and backfilled, and a new, better pond is being created in the adjacent space. The new pond has been designed to accommodate a wide range of wildlife including Great Crested Newt. Creating new habitat with machines at this time of year will make a mess, but the area will soon recover and develop to be a wonderful asset for our wildlife and the local community. Thanks for bearing with us whilst we carry out this work. We expect the project to take around three weeks to complete. The work is being funded and overseen by The Newt Conservation Partnership (NCP) who create and manage habitat for the Midlands Nature Space District Licensing scheme. For more information or if you have questions please contact Pete Case from NCP at: pcase@newtconservationpartnership.org.uk or admin@bradwell-pc.gov.uk

Great Crested Newt

Newt Habitat Creation at Bradwell Village Pond

  

The Newt Conservation Partnership are creating wildlife-friendly habitat across Milton Keynes to benefit great crested newts and other species. To date, the Partnership has made 16 clean water ponds (as well as making improvements to terrestrial habitat) in Milton Keynes, with several more sites in the pipeline. We are currently looking into improving wildlife habitat at Bradwell Fields – please read on for more details.

 

This habitat creation is part of the new Government-approved approach to the conservation of great crested newts called District Licensing. Naturespace (www.naturespaceuk.com) receives funds from developers who may be impacting great crested newts. The majority of these funds are then given to the Newt Conservation Partnership to create, manage and monitor compensation habitat. Ponds are created at a ratio of at least four ponds created for every occupied pond lost to development. A strength of this scheme is the long-term monitoring of the new habitat. Only two years after the scheme began, great crested newt presence has been recorded in nearly two-thirds of compensation sites. Monitoring is also providing evidence of the wider benefits of our work for priority species like the common toad and other freshwater wildlife. The scheme also includes management of the newly created or restored habitat to ensure that the habitat remains in a good quality for wildlife.

We have been working with Bradwell Parish Council to discuss options to improve the habitat available for wildlife at Abbey Field, off Abbey Road. We are hoping to improve the habitat available for great crested newts and other wildlife by creating a new pond, improving the grassland diversity (encouraging wildflowers), and planting additional trees and shrubs. This will take place on the area south of the footpath and will be designed to ensure it continues to be an enjoyable place for locals to walk and appreciate nature. The works to the pond and its surrounding habitats are being planned, funded, and developed as part of an active collaboration between the Newt Conservation Partnership and Bradwell Parish Council. With the support of Milton Keynes Council’s ecology team and the Community Infrastructure Levy, the Parish are also investing several thousand pounds in to restoring and enhancing the site’s value to wildlife. The plans will see Abbey Field transform in to an even more biodiverse, attractive, and valuable landscape, ensuring our landscape supports both local residents and the natural environment.

The existing pond has an invasive, non-native plant called New Zealand pygmy weed Crassula helmsii. This freshwater plant has a negative impact on native plant species and can form dense stands, resulting in reduced biodiversity and water quality. The plant is easily spread as it can regrow from tiny fragments which can be brought in on plants from garden centres, or on wildlife, dogs or people moving between ponds. Unfortunately, once this plant has spread into a pond, it is very difficult to eradicate. Accordingly, the basin of the Bradwell Fields pond which has this plant present will need to be drained and filled in as this is the only way to prevent the spread of this ecologically damaging plant. Our longer term plan is then to dig a pond next to the low lying adjacent area which will be designed to benefit a wide range of wildlife. A management plan for the pond, trees and grassland will be set up, and long-term management funded to ensure it remains high quality habitat.

You can find more about our work at www.newtpartnership.org.uk If you have any queries about the habitat work at Abbey Field, Bradwell Village, please contact info@newtpartnership.org.uk or communications@bradwell-pc.gov.uk