Many people consider Newport to be an urban authority, with it’s industrial heritage, docks and heavily populated centre. However, 75% of the authority is in fact countryside, and both the countryside and urban parts of Newport provide a wealth of habitats for a whole range of important species.
Take the River Usk for example, snaking through the heart of the authority. This river is internationally important for certain fish species, such as the river lamprey, twite shad, and bullhead, as well as the elusive otter. As a result, it is a special area of conservation (SAC) as well as a site of special scientific interest (SSSI). As the River Usk opens out into the Severn Estuary, it becomes important for wading birds, and as a result receives global recognition as a RAMSAR site and also a Special Protection Area (SPA). However, it’s not just the rivers which are important in Newport. Stretching the length of the coast is the Gwent Levels, another SSSI, important for the reens and ditches which criss-cross it, but also for the wildflower rich meadows and marshy grassland which support a rare bumblebee – the Shrill Carder Bee. Travel further inland and the brownfield sites around the city centre and docklands are home to unusual invertebrate and plant species, with one of our flagship species, the Small Ranunculus moth, utilising a plant called Prickly Lettuce which is found on disturbed ground. Further inland still, and some ancient woodlands are known to support populations of dormice, whilst semi-improved and unimproved grasslands in the county provide a wildflower rich haven for many pollinators. Newport also hosts a range of bat species right across the county, and slow worms, grass snake, great crested newt and common toads are found in some areas too.
Newport City Council’s biodiversity department also coordinates the Newport Biodiversity Partnership, and manages the Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP). The LBAP highlights the habitats and species of importance in Newport, and focusses our work on protecting and enhancing the biodiversity of the county. The Biodiversity Partnership is a group of people who represent organisations interested in conserving and enhancing Newport’s biodiversity, and they comment on, amend and deliver the LBAP.