South Downs National Park rangers have supported a community to help toad populations recover.

The Western Downs ranger team have worked with residents in Newton Valence, near Selborne, to help make the village pond more appealing to common toads.

It comes after a report from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Trust’s Arcadian Consulting, which found the main breeding pond was in a degraded state.

Nationally, common toads have declined by almost 70 per cent over the past 30 years and loss of pond habitat is a major cause.

In response to the report, Newton Valance toad patrol and the pond committee swung into action and produced a pond rescue package.

Stephen Robertson, of the Newton Valence Pond Committee, assistant ranger Michaela Hawkins and the South Downs Volunteer Ranger Service volunteers, spent the day armed with shovels in the water, surrounded by a cloud of happy tadpoles.

Under Michaela’s guidance, new plants were planted in and around the pond to protect and enhance its biodiversity, helping toads and other important species such as damselflies.

A special ceremony took place to mark the end of the work last month, accompanied by ‘pond cake’ and tea.

National Park ranger Laura Tong said: “Ponds support an incredible two-thirds of all freshwater species and are key to the survival of toads, frogs and newts, together with a huge range of aquatic invertebrates and plants.

“Common toads are a signature species and vital for pond health, so we hope the toads flourishing will also help other animals thrive.

“This has been a very rewarding nature recovery project and a big thanks to all the helpers and volunteers from the village.”

The project was supported by the national park’s Sustainable Communities Fund and the Ranger Grassroots Fund.

For more information about accessing grants from the two funds visit