Great Crested Newt

Durham Priority Species
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Great Crested Newt Action Plan

Priority Species: Great Crested Newt

Establish and maintain an understanding of the distribution and status of great crested newts through survey and monitoring.
2. Conserve and maintain existing populations of great crested newts preventing further site loss or fragmentation.
3. Raise awareness of the status and needs of the great crested newt and promote appropriate habitat management.
4. Enhance the range, distribution and viability of existing great crested newt populations through the restoration or creation of open water near existing populations.

Vision Statement: To maintain the current range and restore to sites in its former range in east Gateshead and South Tyneside.

Target Type Unit Value
1. To maintain the current range of great crested newts in the Durham BAP area. maintain occupied km squares 87
2. To expand the range of great crested newts in the DBAP area. expand sites 50

The Great Crested Newt is the largest of the three species of newt that are native to the UK. The other two are the smooth newt (Triturus vulgaris) and the palmate newt (Triturus helvetica). Great Crested Newts are usually seen in ponds, but the surrounding land is of equal importance. Ponds are used for breeding and the development of eggs and tadpoles, and are usually occupied between spring and late summer. The surrounding land is used all year by immature newts and most newts will spend winter on land.

The species has suffered a decline in recent years with studies in the 1980s indicating a national rate of colony loss of approximately 2% over five years. It is estimated that there are a total of 18,000 ponds containing great crested newts within Britain, although only 3,000 of these have been identified. The British population is amongst the largest in Europe, where it is threatened in several countries.

The great crested newt is listed on Annexes II and IV of the EC Habitats Directive and Appendix II of the Bern Convention. It is protected under Schedule 2 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) Regulations, 1994, (Regulation 38) and Schedule 5 of the WCA 1981.

Local status

The great crested newt is still quite widespread in Britain. It is widespread but local in Scotland, where there are fewer than 1000 individuals. The species may be numerous locally in parts of lowland England and Wales but is absent or rare in Cornwall and Devon. It is absent from Northern Ireland.

In the Durham area, fortunately, there has been a great deal of survey effort, so distribution is generally well known, with the greatest population density in the lowland areas around Darlington and lowest in upland areas and in the northern parts of the DBAP area (Gateshead and South Tyneside).


  • Habitat loss due to development, despite legal protection.
  • Loss of unrecorded populations.
  • Introduction of fish to ponds.