The pool frog recovery project is the latest stage in ARC’s long-term work to reintroduce the northern pool frog to England. After the species’ extinction here in the 1990s, the northern pool frog has been reintroduced using closely related frogs from Sweden. This initial, international, translocation, which was carried out by ARC in partnership with other organisations and individuals, established a population of northern pool frogs in Norfolk. 

To spread the frogs to an additional location, tadpoles have been head-started. This means that a small quantity of spawn has been collected (under licence from Natural England) so that tadpoles can be reared under captive conditions, protected from predators, to boost the numbers surviving to become froglets. Head-starting has been used successfully to bring northern pool frogs back to Thompson Common – the last home of English northern pool frogs.  ARC’s experience with species introductions is that up to four years of translocations are required for success. Previously, head-started pool frogs had been released at Thompson Common in 2015, 2016 and 2019.

Currently, the Green Recovery Challenge Fund is giving vital support to northern pool frog conservation. In 2021 it has allowed ARC to employ staff (John Baker, Ben King and Emily Jordan) to work specifically on the Pool Frog Recovery Project. ARC is now in a better position than ever to bring back the northern pool frog.

Videography by Katie Garrett, music composed by Rob Hicks and Tristan Noon

Population monitoring at the reintroduction sites in 2021 revealed that both populations bred successfully across several ponds. The project team was assisted by trained volunteers for the first time in monitoring at Thompson Common, where the newly established population continues to grow. It is hoped that the frogs will spread to other ponds within the reserve, as well as adjacent sites which are being restored for wildlife by project partner, Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

Head-starting was also successful in 2021. The target of rearing and releasing 300 animals was surpassed with 542 late stage tadpoles being added to the reintroduction sites. Our volunteers also assisted with tadpole husbandry and releases.

Several ponds at the initial reintroduction site are being managed to hold back vegetation growth. Keeping relatively ‘open’ ponds for northern pool frogs also benefits other herpetofauna (great crested newt, smooth newt, common frog, common toad, grass snake and viviparous lizard) and a host of other wetland residents and visitors.

ARC wants to establish self-sustaining populations of northern pool frogs at additional sites within the former historic range (East Anglian Brecks and Fens), or nearby, to ensure a future for this rare form of the species in England. ARC welcomes contact with site owners and/or managers who would like to work with us to this end. The Northern Pool Frog Site Specification is available as a PDF download or a brief video presentation.

Please contact the Project Manager, John Baker or [email protected].

Project updates:

Mar 2022 - Take our World Frog Day quiz!

Nov 2021 - Bringing the northern pool frog to the wider world

Sept 2021 - Promising news for pool frog populations

Jul 2021 - Pool frog recovery team hops to it

Jul 2021 - Historic reintroduction reverses extinction of England’s rarest frog

Mar 2021 - World Frog Day 2021 – celebrating the UK’s rarest amphibian

Dec 2020 - Pool frogs take a leap forward thanks to Government’s Green Recovery funding

This project is funded by the Government's Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The fund was developed by Defra and its Arm's-Length Bodies. It is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England, the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission.

ARC also wishes to acknowledge support from individuals and organisations who generously offered their services free of charge or at discounted prices. This has been invaluable to the success of our head-starting in 2021. Huge thanks to:

  • Matthew Rowthorn, Custom Aquaria
  • Wrigglies, Dunstable
  • John Courteney-Smith, Arcadia
  • Monkfield Nutrition