Newt fencing

Last updated
A section of temporary newt fencing to enclose a great crested newt habitat MeashamFenceCrop.jpg
A section of temporary newt fencing to enclose a great crested newt habitat

Newt fencing is a barrier designed to control the movement of great crested newts, other amphibians or reptiles. It can also be called drift fencing or temporary amphibian fencing (TAF). It consists of a low fence of plastic sheeting, buried a short way into the ground and supported by lightweight posts usually made of wood or plastic. It is used to keep animals out of working areas, to keep them inside safe areas of their habitat, to intercept migration routes, or to control their movement to help their capture for translocation. It may be used in conjunction with pitfall traps placed at the foot of the fence. It is most commonly used in connection with building projects, to minimise harm to protected species.

Contents

Background

Legislation

The great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) is an amphibian native to the United Kingdom but also widespread across Northern Europe. Whilst it is relatively widespread in the UK (in fact the UK hosts one of the great crested newt's most significant populations), it is rare on a European wide basis. The great crested newt is listed as a "strictly protected fauna species" under appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats: [1] and consequently is protected under UK legislation through the Wildlife and Countryside Act and the Conservation (Natural Habitat) regulations 1994. Under these regulations it is an offence to intentionally disturb, injure or kill any great crested newt, or disturb or destroy its habitat. Likewise, the Habitats Regulations 2010 do not apply to all newts, and in the case of e.g. smooth newt species, they are protected differently, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).

Habitat

The great crested newt's natural habitat requirements are standing fresh water for breeding purposes, but the majority of its time is spent on dry land. They favour semi-natural habitats such as rough grassland, hedgerows and scrub woodland. An individual newt tends to have a range centred upon its breeding pool. The breeding stage of the life cycle takes place in spring, from February through to April. After this it spends much of its time on land, usually within 200 metres (200 yd) from the breeding pond, but sometimes ranging up to 500 metres (500 yd). Unfortunately this life cycle and the use of both terrestrial and aquatic habitas may put the newts into conflict with humans. Brownfield sites often contain very good terrestrial habitat for great crested newts, and land within 500 metres (500 yd) from newt breeding ponds includes a significant proportion of the UK.

Planning

As part of the planning process for any development, an environmental impact assessment should include an ecological survey, which should in turn identify the potential for loss of habitat and the impact on the local population of great crested newts. If the assessment identifies possible loss of habitat or the potential to kill or disturb individual newts, it will be necessary for the developer to apply to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for a licence. The licence application should set out what measures will be taken to ensure that the local population is not threatened, and how potential loss of habitat can be mitigated.

Fencing and trapping

To ensure that individual newts are not injured or killed by development activities, it may be necessary to enclose the site in a newt proof fence, trap the individuals within the site and/or remove them to a suitable release site. As the great crested newt is a European strictly protected fauna species, erection of newt fencing or any capture of the animals requires a licence.

Construction

The newt fence usually consists of a plastic membrane partially buried in the ground (usually to about 200 mm (8 in)) The above ground portion being supported by timber stakes placed at regular intervals along the line of the fence. The fence normally has a below ground horizontal return facing out of the site to minimise the risk of newts re-entering the site through the disturbed soil layer. It usually has some form of overhang along the top edge to reduce the possibility of newts climbing over the fence.

Newt fencing types

Fences tend to fall into three basic categories, temporary (less than two years lifespan), semi-permanent (two to five years lifespan) and permanent (greater than two years lifespan). The materials used to construct them tend to vary with the length of time the fence is to remain operable. A temporary fence is normally constructed from UV-stabilised polythene sheet or woven geotextile. Semi-permanent fences are usually constructed from 1mm thick plastic panels. Permanent fences are usually constructed from rigid plastic or galvanised steel panels. In the case of temporary fencing materials, the underground return is created by folding the material at a 90° angle along the base of the trench, and the top overhang by rolling the top edge of the membrane over a number of times to create a roll. For permanent fencing, the underground return is sometimes omitted and instead the fence is buried deeper (usually 300 mm (10 in)). The top overhang is created by making a fold in the material at the manufacturing stage.

Newt collection and trapping

Trapping is undertaken through the use of buried buckets (pitfall traps) placed alongside the fence material. The idea being that the newts follow the fence along until they fall into the open bucket. Carpet tiles (terrestrial refuges) may be used in conjunction with or instead of pitfall traps. Again these are placed alongside the fence and provide ideal shelter for newts whilst they are resting (daytime and during dry or cold periods).

Once an ecologist is satisfied that all of the newts have been trapped from the site and that the terms of the licence have been met, construction work can begin.

Related Research Articles

Fence Freestanding structure preventing movement across a boundary

A fence is a structure that encloses an area, typically outdoors, and is usually constructed from posts that are connected by boards, wire, rails or netting. A fence differs from a wall in not having a solid foundation along its whole length.

Smooth newt Species of amphibian

The smooth newt, northern smooth newt or common newt is a species of newt commonly found throughout Europe, except the far north, areas of Southern France and the Iberian Peninsula. It is closely related with several similar species that were previously classified as subspecies.

Tiger salamander species of amphibian

The tiger salamander is a species of mole salamander and one of the largest terrestrial salamanders in North America.

White-shouldered ibis species of bird

The white-shouldered ibis is a relatively large ibis species in the family Threskiornithidae. It is native to small regions of Southeast Asia, and is considered to be one of the most threatened bird species of this part of the continent.

Northern crested newt Species of amphibian

The northern crested newt, great crested newt or warty newt is a newt species native to Great Britain, northern and central continental Europe and parts of Western Siberia. It is a large newt, with females growing up to 16 cm (6.3 in) long. Its back and sides are dark brown, while the belly is yellow to orange with dark blotches. Males develop a conspicuous jagged crest on their back and tail during the breeding season.

Eastern newt species of amphibian

The eastern newt is a common newt of eastern North America. It frequents small lakes, ponds, and streams or nearby wet forests. The eastern newt produces tetrodotoxin, which makes the species unpalatable to predatory fish and crayfish. It has a lifespan of 12 to 15 years in the wild, and it may grow to 5 in (13 cm) in length. These animals are common aquarium pets, being either collected from the wild or sold commercially. The striking bright orange juvenile stage, which is land-dwelling, is known as a red eft. Some sources blend the general name of the species and that of the red-spotted newt subspecies into the eastern red-spotted newt.

Alpine newt Species of amphibian

The alpine newt is a species of newt native to continental Europe and introduced to Great Britain and New Zealand. Adults measure 7–12 cm (2.8–4.7 in) and are usually dark grey to blue on the back and sides, with an orange belly and throat. Males are more conspicuously coloured than the drab females, especially during breeding season.

<i>Triturus</i> Genus of crested and the marbled newts

Triturus is a genus of newts comprising the crested and the marbled newts, which are found from Great Britain through most of continental Europe to westernmost Siberia, Anatolia, and the Caspian Sea region. Their English names refer to their appearance: marbled newts have a green–black colour pattern, while the males of crested newts, which are dark brown with a yellow or orange underside, develop a conspicuous jagged seam on their back and tail during their breeding phase.

Herping

Herping is the act of searching for amphibians or reptiles. The term, often used by professional and amateur herpetologists, comes from the word "herp", which comes from the same Greek root as herpetology, herpet-, meaning "creeping". The term herp is a shorthand used to refer to the two classes of ectothermic tetrapods.

Striped newt species of amphibian

The striped newt, Notophthalmus perstriatus, is a species of aquatic salamander native to the southeastern United States. It is a close relative of the eastern newt, with which it shares territory, and can be distinguished from the latter by the presence of red stripes running down the sides of its back and red spots on its back that lack a black outline.

Danube crested newt species of amphibian

The Danube crested newt or Danube newt is a species of newt found in central and eastern Europe, along the basin of the Danube river and some of its tributaries and in the Dnieper delta. It has a smaller and more slender body than the other crested newts in genus Triturus but like these, males develop a conspicuous jagged seam on back and tail during breeding season.

Fens Pools

Fens Pools is a 37.6 hectare biological site of Special Scientific Interest in the West Midlands. The site was notified in 1989. under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and is currently managed by the Country Trust.

Newt Animal

A newt is a salamander in the subfamily Pleurodelinae. The terrestrial juvenile phase is called an eft. Unlike other members of the family Salamandridae, newts are semiaquatic, alternating between aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Not all aquatic salamanders are considered newts, however. More than 100 known species of newts are found in North America, Europe, North Africa and Asia. Newts metamorphose through three distinct developmental life stages: aquatic larva, terrestrial juvenile (eft), and adult. Adult newts have lizard-like bodies and return to the water every year to breed, otherwise living in humid, cover-rich land habitats.

Pitfall trap

A pitfall trap is a trapping pit for small animals, such as insects, amphibians and reptiles. Pitfall traps are mainly used for ecology studies and ecologic pest control. Animals that enter a pitfall trap are unable to escape. This is a form of passive collection, as opposed to active collection where the collector catches each animal. Active collection may be difficult or time-consuming, especially in habitats where it is hard to see the animals such as thick grass.

Green Croft and Langley Moor

Green Croft and Langley Moor is a Site of Special Scientific Interest in the Derwentside district in north County Durham, England. It consists of three separate areas, two to the south of Annfield Plain and one just west of Quaking Houses, between the towns of Consett, to the west, and Stanley, to the east.

Brown Moss

Brown Moss is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, Local Nature Reserve and important wetland area rich in wildlife close to Whitchurch, Shropshire. It is open to visitors and contains a number of self-guided walking trails. The name 'moss' derives from the local word for a peat bog.

Anatolian crested newt species of amphibian

The Anatolian crested newt is a newt species endemic to northern Anatolia in Turkey. Before its description in 2016, it was first considered to belong to the southern crested newt and then the Balkan crested newt. The three species form a complex of morphologically indistinguishable cryptic species. Genetic data demonstrated the Anatolian crested newt to be distinct from the other two species, although it hybridises with the Balkan crested newt at its western range end.

New Hartley Ponds Site of Special Scientific Interest in Northumberland

New Hartley Ponds is the name given to a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in south-east Northumberland, England. The site comprises six seasonal ponds listed for their vegetation and newt population.

Ripon Parks Site of Special Scientific Interest in North Yorkshire, England

Ripon Parks is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, or SSSI, situated north of Ripon, to the west of the River Ure and to the east of the village of North Stainley, in North Yorkshire, England. It was once part of the land held since the Middle Ages as a deer park by the archbishops of York and the canons of Ripon. The site was designated as an SSSI in 1983, because its varied habitats are valued for their breeding birds, amphibians and varied flora. The woods here are "of note" for the parasitic flowers of common toothwort and yellow star-of-Bethlehem. A small part of the site is accessible via public footpaths; there are no public facilities or dedicated car parks. The site incorporates the High Batts Nature Reserve, which is privately run for training, recording and educational purposes, and accessible to members only, except for its annual open day. Ripon Parks is now owned by the Ministry of Defence, and parts of the site are used as military training areas.

Kirk Deighton SSSI Site of Special Scientific Interest in North Yorkshire, England

Kirk Deighton SSSI is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in Alton's Field, Kirk Deighton, North Yorkshire, England. This site has been recognised as having one of the largest known breeding populations of great crested newts in the United Kingdom. It is a Special Area of Conservation, and is listed for protection under a number of directives. This ordinary-looking grassland field, with a couple of ponds in it, is ideal habitat for the newts, which use the grassland for foraging, the ponds for breeding, and surrounding walls, hedges and woodpiles for hibernation. The site is not accessible to the public, and it is not permissible to survey the ponds without a licence.

References

  1. Annexe II: Strictly protected fauna species Retrieved on 15 September 2008

Further reading