If you go down to Ham Common today you're in for a big surprise

Release Date: 07/02/2017

Breeding toads will soon be taking their annual 100m trip from their habitat in Ham Common to pools on the other side of the road to spawn over the next four weeks.

As the expectant toads make their short journey residents and motorists are being given advance warning of the annual closure of a small section of Church Road - for toad safety. The short stretch runs between Ham Gate Avenue and the entrance of Wilmer House in Church Road. The closure will begin on Friday 3 March from 10am and will run until Friday 31 March.

However, this is unlike any other year. A brand new wildlife pond is currently being built especially for Richmond’s four-legged amphibian friends thanks to partnership work between Richmond Council and the conservation charity, Froglife - plus a generous £8,600 grant from The Veolia Environmental Trust.

The habitat is being delivered as part of Froglife’s flagship project, ‘London Dragon Finder’, which is encouraging Londoners to help protect amphibians and reptiles across the Capital. Through surveying, mapping and creating new habitats, the project helps to conserve species like toads, frogs and newts. The new pond will be built by the end of the month – in time for the breeding season.

The project will enhance the biodiversity of the area by creating a new large pond. It is a site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation, next to Richmond Park and a Local Nature Reserve. Currently there are only wet hollows within the woodland which support breeding frogs during wet springs where there is sufficient standing water.

Richmond Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Pamela Fleming, said:

“This is fantastic news for our beautiful borough and we’re delighted that our partnership work with Froglife has resulted in what will be a gorgeous wetland oasis courtesy of the funding provided by The Veolia Environmental Trust. The environment is a cornerstone of our work here at the Council and we know how much our natural habitats, parks and open green spaces mean to our residents.”

Alan Shearman, Project Manager of Froglife’s London Dragon Finder programme, said:

“As our towns and cities have expanded the habitat available for wildlife has shrunk. But, with some careful planning and help from willing volunteers, we can still create the right conditions for wildlife to thrive in urban areas.”

Paul Taylor, Executive Director of The Veolia Environmental Trust, added:

“We are really pleased to be able to support this exciting project and we look forward to seeing the finished pond and the frog and toad life it will support.”

The University of Zurich in Switzerland has shown that on average common toads have declined by 68 per cent over the last 30 years in the UK. In some areas, such as London and the South East of England, declines have been even more pronounced.

Updated: 7 February 2017