Learn more about the landscape conservation strategy that underpins the NatureSpace district licensing scheme

The Landscape-Level Conservation Strategy

The NatureSpace District Licence scheme (licensed by Natural England) has been designed to offer benefits to developers and planners but ultimately to improve and enhance conservation for great crested newts. The conservation strategy has been developed by amphibian and freshwater experts, the Amphibian and Reptile Conversation Trust and the Freshwater Habitats Trust, alongside NatureSpace and the Newt Conservation Partnership, to deliver landscape-scale, long-term conservation benefits for great crested newts.

Developers make payment into the scheme to use a Local Authorities Licence. The monetary input is spent on delivering newt conservation across the Local Authority.

40% of the funds pay for NatureSpace and Local Authority operating costs, and for ‘outcome-based’ landscape scale monitoring programmes that allow us to measure newt conservation status.

60% of the funds are paid into the asset-locked Newt Conservation Partnership and split into three equal areas:

  • Aquatic and terrestrial habitat creation
  • Long-term management of the compensation sites
  • Operating costs of the Newt Conservation Partnership and ‘output-based’ monitoring programmes that assess how the ponds are doing.

The funding delivers large-scale, upfront and long-term habitat creation, management, and monitoring across the Local Authorities. The conservation strategy is based on the Lawton Principles of “more, bigger, better and joined”, delivering a net gain of great crested newt conservation status through the planning system.  The interpretation of net gain is informed by an assessment of conservation status and measured using a series of metrics to track changes in conservation status across the regions.

The creation and restoration of high-quality aquatic and terrestrial habitat across the landscape will:

  • Increase numbers of high-quality occupied ponds
  • Increase extent of suitable terrestrial habitat
  • Improve connectivity across the landscape
  • Maintain and extend great crested newt range
New pond Whitecross Green SSSI_Pascale Nicolet

The Newt Conservation Partnership

The Newt Conservation Partnership is a community-benefit society. They are responsible for the creating and managing of high quality habitat for great crested newts as part of the district licensing scheme. The team is seconded from the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust and the Freshwater Habitats Trust.

The Newt Conservation Partnership works with NatureSpace to deliver the conservation strategy across the Local Authorities using the District Licence Scheme.

Delivering Compensation

The scheme funds creation, restoration and management of ponds, terrestrial habitat and connectivity features, because newts use both aquatic and terrestrial habitat at different times of the year and for different life stages.

For every newt pond lost, four new ponds are required to be created (or restored). However, we aim to create eight new ponds for every one lost. There are also compensation requirements for terrestrial habitat and connectivity features at a 1:1 ratio.

Site selection and habitat creation follows expert advice and guidance from the Million Ponds Project Toolkit and Amphibian Habitat Management Handbook. As part of site selection, a number of surveys are carried out (site dependent) including investigations into geology, archaeology, water quality, nearest newt population, future threats and existing biology. This is to ensure high-quality habitat can be created to maximise benefits for great crested newts, and prevent damage to any important existing features such as good-quality habitat or archaeology.

GCN high res

Monitoring and management

The scheme has an extensive long-term monitoring strategy, which includes:

  • Site assessment within 6 months of pond construction to address any issues, particularly in terms of hydrology post-creation.
  • Annual monitoring at compensation sites to assess if they have been colonised by great crested newt and determine if any management adjustments are required.
  • At a selection of sites, population monitoring is carried out to monitor change in net great crested newt abundance
  • Landscape-scale monitoring to identify trends in great crested newt populations across the whole region and to assess whether compensation ponds are contributing towards favourable conservation status for great crested newts regionally.

Compensations sites and Prospective Landowners

The Newt Conservation Partnership work with landowners and managers to secure sites for great crested newt and compensate for the impact of development. Landowners are supported through management agreements, financial contributions, and ongoing technical support.

Click here to find out more about what is involved in setting up a compensation site on your land or land you manage.

pond creation in the Forest of Dean – ponds created jan 2020 – photo june 2020