A few years ago it was decided to initiate an intervention project for the conservation and improvement of the populations of the eleven species of amphibians that inhabit the Montes de Valsaín mountain range: salamander (Salamandra salamandra), Iberian ribbed newt (Pleurodeles waltl), marbled newt (Triturus marmoratus), common toad (Bufo spinosus), Natterjack toad (Epidalea calamita), common midwife toad (Alytes obstetricans), Iberian spadefoot toad (Pelobates cultripes), Iberian painted frog (Discoglossus galganoi), common frog (Pelophylax perezi), Iberian frog (Rana iberica) and San Anton frog (Hyla molleri). The project began with the diagnosis of the baseline situation and the specific reproduction requirements that each of the species had, as a starting point from which to develop a series of actions to protect the ponds already existing in the area - through fencing fundamentally - and to create new spaces suitable for the reproduction of different species - excavations on the ground that could act naturally as new pools and fencing thereof.
In some cases, it entailed recovering spaces that had been lost due to lack of use, as is the case of some ponds that were used to provide livestock with drinking water and that have become clogged due to lack of maintenance work. In others, it entailed adapting places that are good for amphibians and which require certain undertakings such as fencing, to avoid trampling by livestock and to provide refuge areas. In addition, new pools are created in places suitable for amphibians, but which lack a habitat for their reproduction.
Wet areas of different dimensions have been created using a wheeled backhoe to prevent damaging the surrounding areas. Depths have varied according to the zones, with an average of 1.5 m and adapting to the terrain to avoid large earth movements. The excavated earth was dumped on the sides of the excavation in order to increase the capacity; slopes were smoothened out so that the final result is as natural as possible, and vegetation settles itself on them, fixing them into place. Water evacuation pipes operating from one level were installed, preventing the water from overflowing and damaging the retaining structure.
Enclosures with treated wooden posts have also been installed to avoid damages caused by trampling and overgrazing by livestock, with the resulting damage to amphibians. Fences are permeable for wildlife.
The interventions do not include the relocation or transfer of animals from one pond to another. Thus, colonization by different species (not only amphibians, also plants and other animals) is absolutely natural.
Together with these in situ conservation measures, an ex situ conservation measure has been launched by the Montes de Valsaín Center. The intervention consists in removing the larvae of amphibians which, as a result of the early drying of the ponds due to the increase in temperature and variations in the distribution of precipitation, would die due to their inability to complete metamorphosis, and transferring them to suitable facilities where they can complete the cycle and become adults. Later, they are relocated again to their original habitats, thus reinforcing the populations. In no case are specimens that could be naturally viable removed from the land and so far, no artificial recolonizations are carried out in places other than those from which the larvae were extracted.