Popley fields – a perfect habitat corridor

Project: SINC at Popley Fields, Basingstoke
Back in 2007 a large area which was already a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC), needed to be re-created for Great Crested Newts at Popley Ponds, Basingstoke, before redevelopment of the adjacent land for new homes by Wilson Homes.
What made this project so interesting was the fact that part of the plan included 6,000m² of wildflower meadow, with a dispersal corridor between the ponds and the meadow, as Newts require suitable terrestrial habitat for most of the year.

Turf installed showing the underpass in the distance

Wildflower meadow - the perfect habitat corridor

The Principal Ecologist therefore, requested specific native wildflowers and grasses to be included in the seed mix as these were compatible with the habitat required for the Great Created Newts.
Overlooking the meadow

This project is a perfect example of how the construction industry and ecologists can work together, to try to minimise the overall ecological impact on wildlife, when it comes to redevelopments. With increasing pressures on green spaces across the UK with regard to developing new housing, it is unfortunately inevitable that habitats will be lost or at best fragmented, and therefore it is vital that we take responsibility in trying to minimise this effect. On this site by using an underpass, Newts can access suitable habitat both sides of the road. Additionally the wildflower meadow provides the ideal habitat for them and many other species such as butterflies, mammals, birds and insects.
What is habitat fragmentation? the term habitat fragmentation is focused on the disruption of large continuous chunks of habitat, which have become divided and subdivided into smaller ‘fragments’ of habitat, which are either completely isolated from each other (as the image below demonstrates), or destroyed altogether through additional development. These fragments are rarely indicative of the original environment. Once the habitat is lost, it cannot be restored to what is once was, meaning it can no longer fill the same ecological purpose.
An information board is a great idea to educate the locals on the idea behind the project