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Great Crested Newt Monitoring 2017 - BE0147

The aim of this investment is to secure significant leverage and policy application from planned investment by NGO and research partners in surveillance of the great crested newt, a European Protected Species. This investment will ensure that surveillance is sufficient, and that we have access to data to meet our both our statutory monitoring commitments and demonstrate our long-term approach to managing great crested newts.
The UK has been unable to make an accurate assessment of the population status of the great crested newt, and to avoid infraction, Defra has agreed to implement strengthened monitoring and provide the European Commission with progress updates,
Our strategy has been to strengthen and expand existing survey activity coordinated by the Freshwater Habitats Trust over three years, starting in 2015. This is an efficient way to secure our aims, which would otherwise incur much higher costs from professional surveyors.

Freshwater Habitats Trust are currently running a three year Heritage Lottery funded ‘PondNet’ project, which has successfully established a volunteer delivered multi-taxa national monitoring scheme for pond life. Analysis undertaken at the start of the project showed that too few volunteers were willing to undertake the traditional great crested newt surveys on too few ponds. This is because traditional survey required four to eight visits often in the dark. Using environmental DNA testing (testing for newt presence using DNA signals in the water) requires only one visit per year at any time of day, allowing the sample size to be expanded substantially and making the initiative viable as a national surveillance programme.
Defra funding will be used for three outcomes:
1. Analysis and presentation of data collected over the previous two years to check our assumptions about the sufficiency of enhanced monitoring and ensure that we are on track to deliver to required standards
2. Purchase of DNA assessment kits to allow volunteers to survey a greater number of ponds and provide robust assessments of change
3. Coordination and direction of volunteer effort to ensure the network covers a representative sample of ponds.

Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : GCN eDNA 2015 17 FINAL report   (1219k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2017

To: 2018

Cost: £45,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Freshwater Habitats Trust