Amphibian and Reptile Conservation’s new Creating New(t) Connections project, funded by Welsh Government and administered by the National Lottery, aims to strengthen the resilience and connectivity between key great crested newt sites that are managed by Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC), and located within Deeside and Buckley SAC, set in the county of Flintshire, North East Wales.

This project will deliver direct benefits to improve condition and resilience at five nature reserves within or adjacent to the Deeside and Buckley Special Area of Conservation (SAC), improving connectivity and resilience of the site and of the metapopulations of the rare and threatened great crested newt for which it is designated. We will deliver a programme of habitat and access creation and restoration at key locations within this unique, post-industrial landscape, improving wildlife corridors through an increasingly urbanised environment. We will engage the local community in activities that contribute directly to the long term future of the wildlife on the SAC while enhancing its role as part of a wider nature network, increasing resilience to climate change and making nature accessible to people and communities.

Native amphibians and their habitats are declining throughout the UK. In Wales, amphibian populations are at risk from threats such as habitat loss and degradation, change in land-use, climate change, disease and the introduction of predatory and non-native species. North east Wales, is recognised, as a strong hold in the UK for the rare and protected great crested newt and the wider amphibian assemblage.

The significance and increasing urbanisation in this area has contributed to the fragmentation and degradation of habitats and their important connections between populations. Great crested newt populations within any site may fluctuate significantly in size as conditions change: their long term viability depends on maintenance of good habitat within and connections between different sites. Consequently, these pressures are impacting on the integrity and the long term viability of the Deeside and Buckley SAC and the great crested newt populations for which it is designated. Our experience with the target species shows that they can respond positively and rapidly to habitat enhancements. This project will look to ‘bolster’ habitat within the nature reserves and enhance habitats that connect to the wider wildlife corridors.

If you are interested in volunteering with ARC and would like to be involved in this exciting project please contact Mandy Cartwright – [email protected]