At last – a good newts story!

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Volunteers and foresters pooled their resources to breathe fresh life into three woodland ponds.

Forestry Commission Wales and members of BTCV got together to rescue the ponds, which are important breeding sites for great crested newts and provide valuable habitat for other water-loving creatures such as frogs.

Two of the ponds – Parc y Van and Wern Ddu – are in the Welsh Government woodlands known locally as Caerphilly woodlands and the third, Tyn y Coed, is a large, long pond located in an old blocked quarry in a secluded woodland.

Parc y Van had silted up completely on one side, joining a small island in the middle of the pond to the surrounding path, while the path on the other side of the pond was falling away with erosion.

Volunteers spent three days digging out the silt, repairing the path and thinning out the vegetation – clearing out five black bags of rubbish along the way.

Wern Ddu pond, known locally as amphibian pond due to the high numbers of amphibian species there, including great crested newts, had also started to silt up and fill up with logs thrown in by passers-by.

Volunteers cleared away the silt and removed overhanging trees surrounding the pond, letting in more light.

The toughest challenge was with Tyn y Coed, which was so silted up in places it was only a few inches deep.

Some 15 volunteers, working with advice from Forestry Commission Wales conservation manager Rosalind Codd, spent over a week digging out silt and clearing trees and undergrowth, which were left around the pond edges as habitat piles.

Forestry Commission Wales forest ranger Emma Louise Felkin said, “All the ponds had naturally silted up over many years and had become dark and overgrown.

“Our woodlands provide essential wildlife habitats and this work will help the ponds to support more life, increasing biodiversity.”

The great crested newt is the largest of the British newts and Britain probably has Europe's largest population and is, therefore, very important to its continuing survival.

These newts, which are protected by law, need water-bodies such as ponds for breeding but, for most of the year, they live on dry land.

Keith Stockdale of BTCV said, “The volunteers used a range of tools and techniques to bring light and life back to the ponds, clearing drains and roadways of mud.

“Volunteers from the Department of Work and Pensions especially enjoyed their days out of the office."

Caption: Volunteers get busy clearing one of the ponds.


A total of 14.3 per cent of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Government.

Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.

For more information on the pond work, contact Emma Louise Felkin on 02920 886863, mobile 07824 857541, email

More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on

Visit News at FCWales for news, images, press office contact details and links to case studies.

Press office contact: Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922, email