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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 January 2006, 13:13 GMT
Wildlife park gets special status
Little Wittenham Nature Reserve
The Little Wittenham Nature Reserve has been given SSSI status
A wildlife haven in south Oxfordshire has been given special conservation status by the European Union.

The Little Wittenham Nature Reserve, which is owned by the Northmoor Trust, has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The ponds and grassland are a natural breeding ground for great crested newts - an endangered species - dragonflies and other amphibians.

The SSSI status means the reserve will be protected and enhanced.

The 250-acre (1,000 sq km) reserve lies on two small hills overlooking the river Thames, 10 miles south of Oxford, and is open to visitors throughout the year.

The reserve is home to endangered great crested newts

The Northmoor Trust has been laying traps to monitor the number of great crested newts on the reserve and said it hopes to see the population continue to thrive on the reserve in the future.

Ben Earl, from the trust, said: "We are hopefully doing a new pond for the newts this summer, if we get the funding for it.

"And we are going to be putting up new interpretation boards and a new guided trail for visitors to this important site."

The trust hopes the new status is going to attract more visitors to the area and at the same time protect Oxfordshire's wildlife.

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