What is the Newt Conservation Partnership?

A community benefit society involving two conservation charities (Freshwater Habitats Trust and ARC), the Newt Conservation Partnership creates and restores ponds and terrestrial habitat for Great Crested Newts through NatureSpace’s innovative District Licensing Scheme. By working together we aim to reduce the adverse impact of development on biodiversity through improved off-site ecological mitigation and habitat creation.

The Newt Conservation Partnership, is based on the latest scientific evidence and follows conservation best practice to ensure it provides maximum benefits to wildlife. By working with our partners, we’ve already transformed degraded aquatic and terrestrial habitats into a rich wildlife sites with exceptional biodiversity.

District Licensing for great crested newts

The Newt Conservation Partnership is the practical delivery partner for the NatureSpace District Licensing scheme, and operates in around 70 local planning authorities. The scheme was developed by a consortium of conservation NGOs and great crested newt experts to ensure conservation of the species at a local and landscape scale. The scheme is approved by Natural England and operates in Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Milton Keynes, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Staffordshire, Surrey and West Sussex.

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

What is district licensing?

Annual monitoring

Scientific research underpins the conservation activities carried out, in particular the extensive monitoring programme that is fully funded by the scheme. 

Annual compliance monitoring including Habitat Suitability Index scoring of aquatic and terrestrial habitat and eDNA sampling at all of the ponds. On top of this, each year a number of ponds is selectively sampled and surveyed for newts using torching, trapping and egg-searching methods. On top of this, the sampled ponds are subject to a wider benefits survey of plants and invertebrates. Data collected contributes to reporting the effectiveness of the great crested newt conservation, as well as the 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.

View reports from 2022

View reports from 2023

How it all benefits great crested newts

Collaborating with a number of landowners (private, large estate, council, Ministry of Defence and other NGO landowners), the Newt Conservation Partnership carefully selects 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, then secure management agreements and provide annual payments to landowners to ensure newt habitat can be maintained for at least the next 25 years.