Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2013 (NE349)

2.2    Managing habitats for water voles, dragonflies, newts and toads

Why your farm is important

Water voles were widespread before World War II, but have declined incredibly rapidly in the last 30 years. Theirs has been one of the most serious declines of any British mammal during the 20th century (declining up to 94 per cent from areas where they had been recorded in the late 1990s). The spread of American mink has contributed to this rapid decline, although habitat loss, fragmentation and drainage schemes have also
had an impact.

Dragonflies and other wetland invertebrates rely on ponds, rivers and ditches to complete their life cycles. Shallow ponds and ditches are important for many rare species which thrive on the muddy edges created as the water dries out in summer. Dragonflies and other invertebrates use pond edges, where the water is warm and shallow and there is plenty of vegetation. Water edges should not be completely shaded out by
trees and scrub as these hamper the growth of vegetation and cool the water.

Loss of ponds has caused declines in native frog, newt and toad species, and has resulted in once common species becoming scarcer and some species being lost from parts of England


Priority areas for water voles, dragonflies, newts and toads

This map shows the priority areas for water voles, dragonflies, newts and toads. It is intended to help you establish whether the options below are suitable for your farm. More detailed regional maps are available on the Natural England website at: www.naturalengland.org.uk/es.

If your farm is located in a high-priority or mediumpriority area, by including the options into your agreement, you will be helping water voles, dragonflies, newts and toads to thrive on your farm.






What you can do for water voles, dragonflies, newts and toads

By buffering and protecting any water on your farm, you will help protect and provide the habitat for newts, water voles and other small mammals to flourish.

Options which restore and create riparian habitats such as ponds, fens, reedbeds and ditches and buffering water courses, to prevent bankside poaching from livestock will provide food and cover for many species. Dragonflies and other invertebrates will benefit from clean, fluctuating water levels with plenty of vegetation.

For more information on management of frogs and toads, see the leaflet Selecting Environmental Stewardship Options to Benefit Reptiles produced by Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (www.arguk.org).


Code Option description
EB6 Ditch management
EB7 Half ditch management
EB10 Combined hedge and ditch management (incorporating EB3)
EE7 Buffering in-field ponds in improved permanent grassland
EE8 Buffering in-field ponds in arable land
EJ9 12 m buffer strips for watercourses on cultivated land
EJ11 Maintenance of watercourse fencing
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