How this once extinct amphibian was reintroduced to East Anglia

After historical uncertainty over the status of this species in the UK, research confirmed that a northern form of the pool frog that was found in Sweden and Norway was also native to Britain. Unfortunately, northern pool frogs became extinct here during the 1990s.

In the mid-2000s a decision was taken to attempt reintroduction, in line with the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and the Habitats Directive. Amphibian and Reptile Conservation helped to write a detailed reintroduction strategy which was then implemented with help from a range of partners including Anglian Water, Natural England, Forestry Commission, universities and volunteers. 

The First Reintroduction

Adults, juveniles, tadpoles and spawn were collected from Sweden from 2005 to 2008, after gaining permissions from the Swedish authorities. They were screened for health conditions, before being brought to the UK and released on an undisclosed Norfolk nature reserve where a breeding population has become established.

Second Reintroduction – Thompson Common, Norfolk

In 2015 northern pool frogs were released at a second site in Norfolk, Thompson Common. This was the last known place in Britain where pool frogs occurred before going extinct. For this reintroduction, northern pool frogs were transferred from the first reintroduction site. You can read more about the project in our leaflet 'Re-introducing the northern pool frog to NWT Thompson Common, Norfolk'.

Thompson Common by Helen Maxwell

Recent developments

The Pool Frog Recovery Project is the latest stage in ARC’s long-term work to reintroduce the northern pool frog to England. The Green Recovery Challenge Fund is giving vital support to northern pool frog conservation. Funding in 2021 allowed ARC to employ staff (John Baker, Ben King and Emily Jordan) to work specifically on the project. Work under the project included head-starting, resulting in hundreds of animals being released at both sites. This was the fourth, and final, year of releasing northern pool frogs at Thompson Common where we have established a small, but growing, population.

New Sites for Northern Pool Frogs

To ensure the long-term survival of the northern pool frog in England we are looking for further sites to reintroduce the species. A site specification is available as a PDF download or a brief video.  We welcome discussion with managers and/or owners of potential new reintroduction sites. Please contact John Baker or [email protected].

Partners and Funders

Norfolk Wildlife Trust Find out more about the species and habitats at Thompson Common. 

Anglian Water Find out more about the biodiversity work carried out by, or with, support from Anglian Water.

Forestry England is a long-term partner in northern pool frog recovery.

ARC is also grateful to the following organisations, whose support enabled the establishment and equipping of a head-starting facility that operated during 2019: Amphibian Ark; Anglian Water Flourishing Environment Fund, a charitable fund managed by Cambridgeshire Community Foundation; British Herpetological Society; Keith Ewart Charitable Trust; Natural England.

If you would like to support this work please visit our Sponsor the pool frog page.