KHWP’s pond creation/restoration scheme is part of a wider Natural England-led District Level Licensing scheme for Great Crested Newts, and involves other Kent Countryside Partnerships.
Great Crested Newt (GCN) numbers have declined steadily since the 20th Century, mainly due to the loss of breeding pond. 50% of ponds have been lost due to intensive farming and succession via them silting up.
GCN need fish-free ponds of 100m2 upwards and a minimum depth of 1.5m, areas of submerged and marginal vegetation and also areas of open water for their courting displays. Many ponds with this criteria and suitability for GCN have been lost.
So far, the Kent Countryside Partnerships have created or restored over 300 ponds in Kent under this remit. In 2023, eDNA surveys were conducted on 203 ponds in Kent. They collected water samples, and these were analysed by CellMark for GCN DNA.
Out of the above total KHWP restored and created 24 ponds and in the surveys since the project began, and over 50% of these were found to be inhabited by GCNs already.
In Kent, over 50% of ponds had been colonised by Great Crested Newts after this survey season, a very encouraging indication that this iconic species is finding and using their new homes!