Innovation in techniques: Creating natural refuges for wildlife

17 December 2021. We are creating network of natural new refuges for local wildlife as part of our work on wetlands at Northwick, all part of the minimum of 80 hectares (the equivalent of around 112 football pitches) of new wetland habitat along the internationally important Severn Estuary.

The new refuges at the Northwick wetlands are made from grass, mud and other natural materials. Also known as hibernacula, they make a warm, moist and safe habitat for Great Crested Newts, other amphibians, reptiles and insects. Hibernacula also act as a well-stocked larder, with earthworms, slugs and spiders on offer, and provide protection from predators too.

During winter, the hibernaculum offers a safe place for reptiles and amphibians to hibernate. This is particularly important for Great Crested Newts who are largely inactive in winter.

Hibernacula are useful at many other times of year too. They offer shelter for breeding and from hot weather. The network at Northwick will give animals safe passage from the refuges to other areas. The hibernacula are an important part of our work to create and provide locations for wildlife to thrive. You can find out more about the project’s ecological mitigation work here

Work in progress to create hibernacula at Northwick