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News article

Nature pond to offer wildlife haven near York St John University Sports Park

Published: 28 March 2024

  •   Featured
  •   Campus & Estates
A large excavation site with a digger and two people lining a large pond

The next phase of a major wildlife project by York St John University has got underway this spring. Excavation has taken place for a new wildlife pond adjacent to the University’s Sports Park on Haxby Road in York.

The aim is for this to provide a haven for wildlife, especially great crested newt and water voles, two of the UK’s most threatened species. The work is part of a larger project funded by Natural England’s Species Recovery Programme Grant Scheme, in which we will be revitalising our Foss Fields nature area for the benefit of both wildlife and the community.

Julia Dyman, York St John University Energy Officer said: “Thanks to the great work being done by our partners St Nicks and Wildscapes, we are quickly seeing our nature area being transformed into a place that can be enjoyed by the York community, while also serving an important role as habitat for local wildlife.

“We’re excited to see the area’s transformation through 2024 and hope to see these important and threatened populations start to inhabit this beautiful space.”

Pond works are being undertaken by Wildscapes CIC, an environmental consultancy specialising in pond creation and restoration. Wildscapes have also dug some smaller ponds on the same site as part of the Natural England district level licensing scheme which aims to create habitat for great crested newts.   

Joe Todd, Ponds Project Officer at Wildscapes CIC said: "Wildscapes are delighted to be working with York St John University on this project. It has been a pleasure to work alongside all involved at the University, both for the District Level Licensing ponds that we recently created for benefit of Great Crested Newts, and for the Species Recovery Programme pond that began this week.

"It is fantastic to see the University improving habitat connectivity and habitat heterogeneity for the area. We look forward to monitoring the progress of the ponds over the coming years."  

Project partners St Nicks, a local conservation charity, have been undertaking habitat and species surveys in the area which will provide critical data to help guide the project.

The Natural England Species Recovery Programme funding was announced in September. Speaking at the time, Maria Gill, St Nicks Green Corridors Officer said: “We are very excited to be working with York St John on this important species recovery project.

"Improving habitat for water voles and tansy beetle on the River Foss fits into our wider habitat restoration project, Green Corridors York, and supports nature recovery for the whole river. With the team from the University having done a lot of work already to support the tansy beetle population, it is a perfect partnership!” 

The work is set to continue this year with future dates for planting schemes and volunteering opportunities later in the spring and summer.

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