England’s rarest amphibian, the northern pool frog, returns to its Norfolk home, photo by Jim Foster, ARC 1/4
Northern pool frogs are now being released back at NWT Thompson Common, photo by Jim Foster, ARC 2/4
This is an historic reintroduction, photo by Jim Foster, ARC 3/4
We hope the frogs will spread naturally to other parts of the reserve, photo by Jim Foster, ARC 4/4

England’s rarest frog returns to Norfolk nature reserve

Tuesday 18 August, 2015

Conservationists today announced the return of England’s rarest amphibian, the northern pool frog, to its Norfolk home.

The northern pool frog became extinct in England at the end of the 20th century, with the last known colony at NWT Thompson Common, near Thetford in Norfolk. Northern pool frogs are now being released back at Thompson Common from the previously successful trial reintroduction at a different Norfolk site. This was done using animals imported from Sweden. As a part of the Breaking New Ground Landscape Partnership Scheme, Norfolk Wildlife Trust worked with Amphibian and Reptile Conservation to plan the frogs’ return, using the latest approaches to recovering lost species.

Head of Nature Reserves at Norfolk Wildlife Trust, John Milton said: “I remember hearing the loud call of male pool frogs in the 1980s and it is fantastic for Norfolk Wildlife Trust to be involved in their return”.  

“So often the news is filled with disheartening stories of species being lost from England’s degraded landscapes,” said Yvette Martin of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. “Yet today we’re demonstrating that even nationally extinct species have a chance to return. The northern pool frog is a fantastic example of how we can work together to bring species back, for their own sake and for future generations to appreciate.”

Lisa Chambers, chairman of the Breaking New Ground board said: “This is one of our flagship projects and it’s wonderful to see regional and national conservation organisations working together in the Brecks to restore an iconic species to the landscape.”

For now, northern pool frogs are being released in a part of the Common that is closed to public access, so that they can settle in undisturbed. But in a few years, it is hoped the frogs will spread naturally to public areas of the site. Visitors to Thompson Common can pick up a leaflet about the project - or download here - and in future summers they can listen out for the distinctive call of the pool frog. In the meantime, the project leaders’ websites give information about the pool frogs at Thompson Common.

This historic frog release is part of the three year Breaking New Ground Landscape Partnership Scheme supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and is one of 37 projects being delivered in the Brecks to celebrate and enhance the area. A unique landscape, the Brecks is characterised by heathlands, sandy soils and forest plantations. Pingos – a rare type of pond formed by glacial action – are a key feature of the Brecks, and pool frogs favour them for breeding. This project will show how collaborative efforts can result in diverse, well managed landscapes where threatened species can thrive.
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