BALTRIT - Protection of Triturus cristatus in Eastern Baltic Region

LIFE04 NAT/EE/000070

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Voldemar RANNAP
Tel: +372 673 7592
Fax: +372 673 2901
Email: voldemar.rannap@envir.ee

Project description:


The great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) is widespread in Europe but has suffered from habitat decline over large parts of its range, which is why the species is listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive. The problems it faces include the loss of ponds and other small bodies of water, overgrowth of freshwater habitats and the introduction of fish which feed on newt eggs and larvae. For hibernation, the newt is dependent on terrestrial habitats that may be negatively affected by commercial forestry and intensive agriculture.

There have already been programmes for the protection and restoration of habitats of various amphibian species in Denmark. The experience gained by these programmes in the western Baltic can be of benefit to eastern Baltic countries such as Estonia and Finland which, as of 2004, had yet to start a co-ordinated recovery programme for the great crested newt. Finland and Estonia harbour small and isolated populations along the north-eastern border of the newt's range. Here, the greatest threat to the species comes from the ack of appropriate management of semi-natural grasslands and forest habitats.


The main theme of this LIFE project was to ensure the long-term viability of the small and fragmented populations of the great crested newt in Estonia and Finland and its specific genetic traits.

The project would concentrate on the restoration and protection of a network of suitable habitats targeting 95-97% of the populations in these two countries. The main action would be to ensure there are sufficient ponds. As a result, some 240 small bodies of water were to be restored or created in Estonia and another 28 in Finland. Hibernation habitats would also be safeguarded by the restoration of surrounding forests and semi-natural grasslands (650 ha in total in Estonia). This would have an important regional socio-economic aspect in Estonia, as more than 150 landowners would be involved in implementing management agreements on their land.

Previous experience with habitat restoration for newts and other amphibian species in Denmark, which is being supplemented by the restoration of 12 “demonstration ponds” in Vejle County (Denmark) during the LIFE project, was to provide the basic model for the project actions in Finland and Estonia.

Using the experience to be gained during the project, a best-practice guide was to be prepared as well as country-wise action plans. The project's dissemination activities would also involve experts from Latvia and Lithuania.


The project has taken significant strides towards ensuring the favourable conservation status of Triturus cristatus in three countries - Estonia, Finland and Denmark. Comprehensive action plans have been prepared for Estonia, Finland and for the area of the former Vejle County in Denmark. These action plans will serve as the main tool for the after-LIFE activities and overall sustainability of the project.

The most impressive results of the direct habitat management - restoration and creation of new breeding ponds for the great crested newt and management of terrestrial habitats - have been reached in Estonia, where approximately 70% of the restored/newly created 240 ponds were already colonised by the target species by the end of the project. In Denmark, 11 out of 12 restored/newly dug ponds have been colonised by the species. In Finland, new populations of Triturus cristatus were found during project monitoring activities.

In Estonia, a total of 380 ha of the great crested newt's terrestrial habitats were subject to management in 2004, 523 ha in 2005 and 515 ha in 2006. From 2007 onwards, terrestrial management activities have been successfully continuing outside the scope of the LIFE project using EU agri-environmental subsidies. The project produced a range of dissemination materials, including posters, leaflets in five languages, and a set of best practice guidelines. A nature trail was established at Haanja Nature Park in Estonia, as well as a permanent exhibition at the headquarters of the Estonian Environmental Board in Otepää.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Conservation Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Species - Amphibians


animal corridor‚  conservation of genetic resources‚  environmental impact of agriculture‚  freshwater ecosystem‚  grassland ecosystem‚  introduction of animal species‚  renaturation‚  wetlands ecosystem‚  wildlife sanctuary‚  site rehabilitation‚  modelling‚  environmental training‚  forest management‚  land restoration‚  informal negotiation‚  restoration measure‚  information network‚  management contract‚  information system

Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...
  • Decision 93/626 - Conclusion of the Convention on Biological Diversity (25.10.1993)
  • COM(95) 189 - "Communication on the judicious use and conservation of wetlands" (12.12.1995)
  • COM(98)42 -"Communication on a European Community Biodiversity Strategy" (05.02.1998)
  • COM(2001)162 -"Biodiversity Action Plan for the conservation of natural resources (vol. I & II)" ...

Target species

 Triturus cristatus     

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator The Ministry of the Environment of the Republic of Estonia
Type of organisation National authority
Description The Estonian Ministry of Environment is responsible for resolving questions concerning the protection of nature and the environment, for regulating land use and building (including co-ordinating the elaboration of regional plans) and for managing the exploitation, protection and national accounting of natural resources. The Ministry organises environmental monitoring as well as environmental impact assessments for projects of national importance. It co-ordinates international contacts in environmental matters, formulates national policies and prepares legislation. For the regional implementation of law and policy, there are 15 Regional Environmental Departments.
Partners Environmental Centre of Aarhus, Denmark State Nature Conservation Centre, Estonia North Karelia Regional Environment Centre, Finland Vejle County, Denmark Haanja Nature Park, Estonia Otepää Nature Park, Estonia Rouge Municipality, Estonia Haanja Municipality, Estonia


Project reference LIFE04 NAT/EE/000070
Duration 01-JUN-2004 to 31-DEC -2008
Total budget 736,190.00 €
EU contribution 368,095.00 €
Project location Vejle amt(Danmark) Associated Estonia (EE)(Estonia Eesti) Uusimaa(Finland Suomi)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Communication Plan After-LIFE Communication Plan (EN)
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "Protection of the great crested newt: Best Practi ...
Publication: Layman report Layman report (FIN)
Publication: Layman report Layman report (EN)
Publication: Layman report Layman report (DK)
Publication: Layman report Layman report (EST)


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version