Shropshire Star

Telford's tiny toads to get a big helping hand out of water with funding boost

Volunteers at a Telford nature reserve have received funding to help young toads move safely out of the water.

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Friends of Dothill Nature Reserve have been granted £1,000 to help give tiny toads a helping hand out of the water

Friends of Dothill Nature Reserve have been granted £1,000 from Veolia's EnviroGrant fund to help give little toads a big helping hand on solid ground.

Native frog and toad populations have been reported as being in decline since the 1970s, as they face habitat loss and fragmentation, traffic, pollution and climate change.

However, the Telford nature reserve has been described as a 'toad stronghold' - a damp amphibian oasis packed with plenty of ponds, pools, streams, meadows and woodlands.

Some of the work at Dothill Nature Reserve

During the summer months, it's not uncommon to see hundreds of tiny toads hopping down the woodland paths.

Over the last year, work has been undertaken to dredge the pools at the nature reserve, and use the silt to create new habitats around the pond's perimeter.

Some of the work at Dothill Nature Reserve

Joerg Niehoegen from Friends of Dothill Nature Reserve said: "This year they dredged the pools because there was so much organic material at the bottom - the dredged material was deposited around the edge.

"So the Friends were provided with seeds and plants to fill up these new areas - we had to create snow-shoe-like structures to plant them, we were almost up to our knees in the mud.

Some of the work at Dothill Nature Reserve

"It's been extremely successful and it looks really good - but the mud creates a bit of a problem for the little toadlets. When the tadpoles get their legs they need a grip to get out of the water."

Some of the work at Dothill Nature Reserve

Now, the extra funding will allow volunteers with the Friends of Dothill Nature Reserve to lay rolls of coir - sheets of natural fibre - around the new habitats to help the toads get a grip in their new homes.

The coir will be pre-seeded with water-loving plants, to give the amphibians plenty of shelter from predators.

Joerg added: "Dothill has so much biodiversity, it's perfect because it's full of lots of different areas for different species. This project will really help the toads and frogs."