The Newt Conservation Partnership is a community benefit society formed through partnership between charities, Freshwater Habitats Trust and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. Our sole purpose is to create and restore high quality habitat for Great Crested Newt. We are funded via the NatureSpace Partnership District Licensing Scheme.

Great Crested Newt on a log.

Great Crested Newt District Licensing

There are currently two District Licensing schemes.

The Newt Conservation Partnership is the practical delivery partner for the NatureSpace District Licensing Scheme, which is approved by Natural England and operates in a growing number of local authorities. The scheme was developed by a consortium of conservation NGOs and Great Crested Newt experts to ensure Great Crested Newt conservation at a local and landscape scale. The NatureSpace District Licensing Scheme covers Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Milton Keynes, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Staffordshire, Surrey and West Sussex.

The other scheme is led by Natural England and covers other areas of the UK with a number of different delivery partners.

Pond surrounded by plants with blue sky.

- Pond created by the Newt Conservation Partnership at Bicester Garrison on the Buckinghamshire-Oxfordshire border.

How our work benefits newts

Working in partnership with a range of private, large estate, council, Ministry of Defence and other NGO landowners, we carefully choose our sites for pond creation and restoration where ponds have a clean water source, a high chance of population viability and are within range of an existing newt population to maximise the chance of natural colonisation. This results in better conservation outcomes as newt populations are strengthened and can expand across the countryside, rather than trying to retain populations with poor long term viability in urbanised, heavily managed environments.

The Newt Conservation Partnership funds all initial creation or restoration work, we then secure management agreements and provide annual payments to landowners to ensure newt habitat can be maintained for at least the next 25 years.


Annual monitoring

Our conservation work is evidence-led and based on an extensive monitoring programme, fully funded by the scheme.

We conduct annual compliance monitoring including Habitat Suitability Index scoring of aquatic and terrestrial habitat and eDNA sampling at all our ponds. We also annually select a sample of our sites to undertake repeat population assessment through torching, trapping and egg-searching and alongside wider benefits surveying that looks specifically at invertebrates and plants. The data collected helps us to assess and report on the effectiveness of our great crested newt conservation work and its impact on biodiversity at both site and landscape scale.

Working together with our expert partners at Freshwater Habitats Trust and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, we look to understand more fully the importance of pond creation within the Freshwater Network and for the success of amphibians and other wildlife.

Man wearing purple gloves, holding Great Crested Newt.

Securing great habitat for Great Crested Newts

New ponds need to have an unpolluted water source. They should also be likely to remain fish-free in the long term and undisturbed by dogs or wildfowl. It is important that the habitat around ponds is suitable for newts because they spend most of their time on land and only return to ponds for breeding in the spring.

We look for land that has enough space to create at least two newt breeding ponds. We also restore ‘lost’ ponds to make them better for newts, for example by managing trees, removing fish or re-profiling margins. Good terrestrial habitat includes woodland, scrub or rough grassland. An established hedge network is also important to allow newt to move about the landscape.

The Newt Conservation Partnership can fund the creation of these habitats and their management long term as part of the scheme.

Aerial view of digger next to large area of bare ground to create a pond.

- Newt Conservation Partnership pond creation in action