Page last updated at 10:29 GMT, Friday, 9 May 2008 11:29 UK

Special fence ensures newt safety

Great crested newts
The newt colony is being protected by the special fence

A specially made fence has been put up to help protect a colony of great crested newts in southern Scotland.

The wildlife project at Yair Forest near Selkirk was started due to the dangers posed to the animals by nearby tree harvesting operations.

A purpose-built "newt fence" allows the creatures to get to their breeding ponds but stops them going into areas where forestry work is taking place.

A team of volunteers checks the fence weekly to rescue any stranded newts.

The ponds, which are on the Southern Upland Way, have always been a popular breeding site for a variety of amphibians.

So far this spring we've seen frogs and toads successfully navigating the fence on their way to the ponds, so now it's the newts' turn
Sarah Oakley

In 2006, during a "spring clean", the great crested newt was discovered.

It is against the law to injure, capture or disturb them in any way without a licence.

The creatures live in the surrounding woodland but return to the ponds to breed in the spring.

The one-way fence allows them access to the ponds but prevents them from getting back to areas where they may be at risk from tree felling works.

The fence itself was built from recycled panels from roadworks near the Forth Road Bridge.

Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) staff dismantled it and rebuilt it in time to protect amphibians coming out of hibernation.

Extra care

Conservation Ranger Sarah Oakley said the fence had already proved a success.

"There are only a handful of breeding sites in the Borders for these animals which are protected by European law," she said.

"So far this spring we've seen frogs and toads successfully navigating the fence on their way to the ponds, so now it's the newts' turn.

"It's important that the fence remains intact along its length to make sure newts don't stray back into the harvesting area."

Walkers have been asked to take extra care in the area and repair any damage to the fence or report it to the FCS office in Selkirk.


SEE ALSO
Rallying cry from frog stronghold
06 May 08 |  South of Scotland
Newts stop flood ditch clearance
27 Mar 08 |  Wiltshire
Extra time for amorous amphibians
05 Mar 08 |  Mid Wales
Newts may push up building costs
23 Feb 08 |  Leicestershire

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