A few notes from the latest Wildlife Licencing Newsletter recently sent out by Natural England. 

Natural England will accept eDNA samples taken between the 15th April and 30th June, provided that animals are active and moving. The test requires GCN to have been recently active in the areas sampled and expert judgement should be applied to ensure samples are collected at the optimum time bearing in mind geographical location and conditions early in the year.

But note that if gcn are confirmed present, population estimates may still be required if a mitigation licence is required. 

If an eDNA test shows presence of GCN and consequently a population assessment is required for the proposed development and impacts, please ensure the project timetable allows sufficient time to undertake a full population size class assessment (i.e. the conventional 6 visits between March-June – see the GCN Mitigation Guidelines for details. This will require careful forward planning.


A new landscape scale approach to Great Crested Licensing piloted in Woking Borough last year will now be extended to Kent and Warwickshire. The Kent project will develop a county-wide conservation strategy for Great Crested Newts. It will look at all possible land-management mechanisms, including work on farms and protected sites such as National Nature Reserves. Six of Kent’s District Councils are signed up to develop strategic licensing strategies similar to that trialled in Woking. For developers, a district-wide licensing approach means they will have better certainty about where they can build, reducing housing delays. For nature, the project offers a net gain, with more habitat made available for Great Crested Newts at strategic places where it will have the most positive effects on the population. The Kent strategic project aims to restore GCN to favourable conservation status throughout the County. 


An assessment of the conservation status of great crested newts has been published on the Blog.


Woking Borough Council and Natural England are setting up a new pilot project to protect Greater Crested Newts (GCN) and would like to hear from you. 

The aim is to take a more proactive, Borough wide approach to protecting GCN and their habitat, focusing conservation on the GCN populations that will bring the greatest benefits to their overall population in the Borough.

The pilot also seeks to help streamline the delivery of development by easing this constraint on the layout and design of development land and minimising the risk of delay (and associated cost implications) through a streamlined GCN licensing process.


Full details of the project are available from Woking Borough Council. 


This new low impact class licence (LICL) is part of Natural England’s on-going regulatory improvement work and provides a new way of licensing low and temporary impact works affecting great crested newts (GCNs).

Natural England has introduced the new licence to help them more quickly determine applications that meet the criteria of 'low impact'; benefitting developers by reducing paper work and costs, and ensuring that necessary activities are licensed, whilst safeguarding GCN populations.

The new licence will not affect the planning application process and unfortunately the existing situation where Natural England cannot issue licences before planning permission is granted remains.

Developers and Local Planning Authorities should also note that is not appropriate to attach planning conditions to planning permissions that relate to the species licensing process. 

The GCN LICL can only be used by Registered Consultants (RCs) who have demonstrated that they meet certain criteria required to operate under the licence. The developer is the named Licensee, but is required to use the services of an RC, who will apply to register the site in question under the GCN LICL.

Calumma Ecological Servcices' Dr. Lee Brady is a Great Crested Newt Registered Consultant. 

If you would like more information on how your development project may benefit from this new licence you can call us (01227 751408) or send details to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Mantella cowanii, a critically endangered frog from the highlands of Madagascar.





Interestingly, some populations of this species occupy deforested, open grassland habitat near streams and boulders.





Land ownership issues in the highlands are complex with Mantella 'sites' owned by multiple local communities. Our recent visit to one site suggests that uncontrolled fires represent a threat to the species. Conservation of Mantella cowanii will depend upon working closely with local communities to better regulate land management.


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