The Wildlife and Countryside Act protects all British amphibians. The Natterjack toad and Great crested newt are also European Protected Species (EPS).
There are six amphibian species native to Wales. All amphibians need fresh water in which to lay their eggs or spawn and enough suitable habitat nearby to spend the rest of their year. They have declined in recent decades as ponds have disappeared or become polluted or acidified. Pond restoration and creation (even in gardens) is a great help to amphibian conservation.
All amphibian species spend a large part of their year foraging on dry land, and they need sheltered places to hibernate. Hedgerows and other areas of semi-natural habitat are vital for their survival.
This page cannot cover all aspects of the law or amphibian ecology, but is an introduction to show how you can help to protect these species.
The most common species are protected from sale under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). These are as follows:
- Common frog, Rana temporaria
- Common toad, Bufo bufo
- Palmate newt, Triturus helveticus
- Smooth / common newt, Triturus vulgaris
This legislation protects them from sale, or advertising / offering them for sale. This is to protect them from exploitation in the pet trade or for laboratory use.
Our two rarest amphibians are protected under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended) (known as ‘the Habitats Regulations’). This is because they have declined throughout Europe in recent decades. The Habitats Regulations lists the following amphibian EPS:
- Great crested (or Warty) newt, Triturus cristatus
- Natterjack toad, Bufo calamita
Under the Habitats Regulations, it is an offence if you:
- Deliberately capture, injure or kill any wild animal of an EPS,
- Deliberately disturb wild animals of any such species,
- Deliberately take or destroy the eggs of such an animal, or
- Damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place of such an animal
Disturbance is defined as that which is likely:
- To impair their ability –
- To survive, to breed or reproduce, or to rear or nurture their young, or
- In the case of animals of a hibernating or migratory species, to hibernate or migrate; or
- To affect significantly the local distribution or abundance of the species to which they belong
There are other offences relating to possession, transport and sale. See ‘Possession and Sale of Protected Species’ for more information.
The GCN and natterjack toad also receive protection under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) from the following:
- Disturbing whilst occupying a place of shelter or protection,
- Obstructing access to a place of shelter or protection,
- Sale / offering for sale
For a summary of amphibian legal protection, see ‘Legally protected reptiles and amphibians in Wales’.
NRW issues licences under Regulation 53 of the Habitats Regulations to allow activities involving EPS to proceed, which would otherwise be offences. For further information, see ‘Amphibian licensing’.