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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 December, 2003, 14:58 GMT
Newt survey 'great success'
Moves to track down the UK's endangered great crested newt population have been a major success, wildlife campaigners have said.

Vital information about the amphibious species was collected in a trial survey in Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and Glamorgan.

The Environment Agency said more than 100 volunteers had taken part in the survey, trying to find new sites inhabited by the creatures.

Great crested newts were found in about a quarter of the areas surveyed, with 10 new breeding ponds identified, the agency said.

The findings will be used to develop a National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme by national voluntary bodies, in association with the National Biodiversity Network.

'Fantastic response'

It is estimated that there are 18,000 breeding ponds in Britain, but less than a fifth of these sites are known and many ponds are lost through neglect or development.

The Environment Agency said the survey would help conservationists target advice and grant aid to improve habitats for the newts, whether by restoring ponds with newts already present or by creating ponds which they can colonise.

Rebecca Cleaver, UK Great Crested Newt Conservation co-ordinator, said: "We are delighted with the results of our trial survey.

"There was a fantastic response from landowners, with most being happy to let volunteers survey their ponds."

The volunteers came from a range of environmental organisations and local groups interested in amphibians and reptiles.

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