Great Crested Newts Revisited
“A Capital Project for the Capital’s species”
The UK is home to a great proportion of the Europe’s Great Crested Newts Triturus cristatus. As a consequence we have the privilege and responsibility to ensure that this wonderful species remains at a favourable conservation status wherever they are present.
Great Crested Newts Revisited re-surveyed sites throughout London boroughs in order to:
- establish which ponds still support Great Crested Newts
- establish how prominent/predominate the threats are on the selected survey sites
- conduct habitat restoration and enhancement at a number of sites to help retain this species in London.
Launched in 2010, this two year project – funded by the SITA Trust – was used to develop the favourable conservation status for this species as part of the London Standing Water HAP (chaired by Froglife); while working to raise awareness of this Capital species.
The project aimed to:
- Establish baseline distribution data for GCN in London.
- Feed into the London Standing Water HAP.
- Create and restore GCN habitat at a number of sites in the Capital.
- Establish long term monitoring projects at sites across London.
- Involve and develop volunteer survey groups in looking for GCN and in long term monitoring projects.
- Provide guidelines to landowners and wildlife organisations to ensure that future management of sites are favourable to GCN.
- Feed into the Living Waters projects through site restoration for GCN where applicable.
The first co-ordinated, London-wide garden pond and amphibian survey was conducted in 1984 by Tom Langton, who later went on to form Froglife. This contributed to the lead up to further work for amphibians in the Capital – in 1994 the former London Amphibian and Reptile Group, now the London Essex and Hertfordshire Amphibian and Reptile Trust (LEHART), conducted the first targeted survey of great crested newts in the Greater London area. A summary of their results was published in the London Naturalist in 1996.
Follow up surveys for GCN were carried out in 1997 and a resurvey of all LEHARTs known GCN ponds was completed between 2007 and 2010. Survey work has also been conducted by other Amphibian and Reptile Groups (ARGs) in different boroughs of London where they are covered by old county boundaries, such as Essex ARG, Surry ARG and Kent ARG. The combination of all this work has lead to increases in the knowledge of the distribution if GCN in the Capital, however the data itself is patchy in that different organisations hold different records for sites, with some being well known and others falling through the gaps.
The most established records for GCN in the capital reside with LEHART, and their work has lead to the subsequent management of several dozen GCN ponds in the Greater London Area.
In 2009 Froglife secured funding from the SITA Trust to carry out the GCN Revisited project. Froglife surveyed ponds throughout all London’s boroughs, revisiting many of the ponds surveyed in 1984 as well as investigating other historic and anecdotal records of GCN in London. This will improve the records at GiGL (Greenspace information Services for Greater London) which is the central biological records centre for London, partnered with 26 of the 32 London Boroughs and linked in with their planning departments.