The Wildlife and Countryside Act protects all British amphibians. The Natterjack toad and Great crested newt are also European Protected Species (EPS)

Wales is home to six amphibian species. They 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.

UK legislation

The most common species are protected from sale under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). They are:

  • Common frog, Rana temporaria
  • Common toad, Bufo bufo
  • Palmate newt, Triturus helveticus
  • Smooth / common newt, Triturus vulgaris

The legislation protects them from being sold or offered for sale to protect them from exploitation in the pet trade or laboratory use.

European legislation

Our rarest amphibians are protected under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (known as ‘the Habitats Regulations’). The Habitats Regulations lists the following amphibian European Protected Species (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 the ability to survive, breed, reproduce, or nurture young, or to hibernate or migrate.

There are other offences relating to possession, transport and sale. See ‘Possession and Sale of Protected Species’ for more information.

The great crested newt 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’.

Licensing for activities involving European Protected Species

In certain circumstances NRW may issue licences for activities involving European protected species, that would otherwise be offences.

For further information, see Amphibian Licensing

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