A Natural England scheme is rewarding Cambridgeshire landowners for constructing ponds on their land for to improve great crested newt populations.
The agency partnered with EnTrade to create a sealed-bid auction where local landowners can set prices for creating the ponds and create new habitats for the newts away from land outlined for development.
Great crested newt populations in the UK have declined rapidly over the last century, despite being protected under UK and EU law, largely due to loss of habitat caused by building development and pond neglect.
The scheme has secured more than 125 new ponds since the auctions launched in March 2020. It means developers can complete projects quicker and more cost-effectively and farmers and landowners can create sustainable new revenue streams.
EnTrade product manager James Peacock said: “Landowners can easily learn about the requirements needed to create suitable ponds, enter a price for which they can provide them, then apply for two to six ponds for their land.
The scheme was a win-win solution for everyone, said Mr Peacock. “Creating clusters of ponds in this way has been shown to maximise the chance of colonisation by great crested newts and improve population resilience.”
Natural England habitat delivery strategist Craig Thomas said Cambridgeshire was particularly important for great crested newts – with a strong likelihood that ponds in target areas would be colonised by newts.
“We use the EnTrade platform as an engagement tool, allowing us and our local Habitat Delivery Bodies to build long-term relationships with landowners to positively manage and monitor the new ponds over 25 years.”