Lunar landscape to SSSI
There is a long history of clay extraction for the brick making industry in the Peterborough area. This created a unique landscape characterised by long narrow pools and raised mounds. Froglife are fortunate to manage such a site on the outskirts of Peterborough. The site is owned by O&H Hampton Ltd and managed under a management agreement.
The clay-working methods used have produced a particular arrangement of aquatic and terrestrial habitats which provide ideal breeding, foraging and hibernation conditions for the great crested newt Triturus cristatus, with an estimated population of 30,000 on the reserve. The regime of ridge and furrow creation, coupled with the particular geology of the area which offers high quality, brackish and alkaline water is also highly favourable for stoneworts. Of the eleven species recorded on the reserve, five are Nationally Scarce and a sixth, the bearded stonewort Chara canescens, is Endangered and protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
The clay workings support a varied array of invertebrate habitats including bare earth, which is of particular value for many scarce beetles recognised as being of national significance. The reserve also supports at least 18 species of dragonflies and damselflies and several nationally scarce species of butterfly.
The reserve is designated as a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and SAC (Special Area of Conservation) to protect the large population of great crested newt and the stonewort species which are present on the reserve.
The reserve is unusual in that despite being recognised as internationally important it also exists in the immediate proximity of urban development; this creates unique benefits and also challenges in the long term, especially with regard to its sustainability and the impact of human activity. Trespass, disturbance from dog walkers, fires, thefts, vandalism and other anti-social behaviour are all issues familiar to the site management team.