Eco Club pupils from Arden Secondary School have helped create new habitats for newts and other pond wildlife by planting hundreds of aquatic plants at the ponds at Bridge Meadow Drive.
The planting at the ponds was the last stage in a project which has seen extensive restoration works on the ponds and feeder stream. The works were part of a series of open space improvements to grassland, woodland and wetland habitats for a Wildlife Ways Small Habitats project – Newts and Shoots.
Designed by Solihull Council’s CLAUDE team (Conservation of the Historic Environment, Landscape Architecture, Urban Design and Ecology), implemented by contractors Ebsford Environmental and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the project has involved de-silting the ponds, coppicing several trees and pruning overhanging branches. This has allowed more sunlight to reach the pond, helping aquatic plants to grow and support local wildlife. Planting and seeding around the edge of the ponds is the final stage in the project and the Eco Club were keen to lend a hand, develop their gardening skills and learn how the plants could become home to protected species like the great crested newt.
Cllr Andy Mackiewicz, Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Planning and Housing, said: “The council’s Wildlife Ways project has made a huge difference to Solihull, increasing biodiversity and habitats for local wildlife and also making the borough even better for residents and visitors. Although the Wildlife Ways project has come to an end now, it continues to support small environmental projects such as the pond at Bridge Meadow Drive through Small Habitats Grants. Pupils at the local schools have been involved in this project since the start and have learned a great deal about the environment while caring for it.”
Emily Farrell, Ebsford Environmental Project Manager added: “We have completely transformed a muddy patch into a beautiful pond that will create new habitats for lots of small animals – including the newts in the project’s title. Today’s planting was the last stage of the project but the local community has been supportive since the very start and I know that they will continue to nurture and look after the area as the plants establish and it’s been a pleasure to get to know the them, so we thank you.”
The Newts and Shoots project is funded through the Wildlife Ways Small Habitats Grants Programme – part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. Grants are available from £20,000-£200,000 to support smaller projects from organisations in the GBSLEP area - including Solihull, Birmingham, Bromsgrove, Cannock, East Staffordshire, Lichfield, Redditch, Tamworth and Wyre Forest - with the aim of improving the conservation status of land in the GBSLEP area. Anyone interested in applying for funding for a project should email firstname.lastname@example.org
The ponds have been planted with – wild angelica, flowering rush, marsh marigold, common sedge, cyperus sedge, hemp agrimony, frogbit, purple loosestrife, water mint, bog bean, broadleaved pondweed and lesser spearwort.