NELEAP - Protection of Emys orbicularis and amphibians in the north European lowlands

LIFE05 NAT/LT/000094

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Nerijus ZABLECKIS
Tel: +370 656 20426
Fax: +370 523 10441
Email: nerijus.z@glis.lt

Project description:


Populations of the European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis) and the fire-bellied toad (Bombina bombina) are declining throughout the North European lowlands, while the decline of the great crested new (Triturus cristatus) has been observed in Denmark, Estonia, Finland and Germany and is suspected in Lithuania and Poland. Considerable knowledge has been acquired on the design and improvement of pond landscapes of high value for amphibians, thanks mainly to three LIFE projects. The first project dealt with the consolidation of the European fire-bellied toad (Bombina bombina) in Denmark (LIFE99 NAT/DK/006454). The two other projects focused on the protection of the great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) in the Eastern Baltic region and on the management of the Bombina bombina in the entire Baltic region (LIFE04 NAT/EE/000070 and LIFE04 NAT/DE/000028). From basic experience on turtle conservation in Lithuania, Poland and Germany, sufficient data is available to implement protection measures on herpetological (reptiles and amphibians) sites of European interest and to develop a concept of active protection of sites of high herpetological diversity in the North European lowlands.


The main objective of the project was to ensure the favourable conservation status of the European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis) in the North European lowlands. The project also planned to ensure a favourable conservation status for the European fire-bellied toad (Bombina bombina) and the great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) in the areas where they occur together with Emys orbicularis. The project would furthermore demonstrate how to protect Bombina bombina in artificial and drained lowland meadows of Brandenburg in Germany and in the large natural swamps and fenland of Zuvintas National Park in Lithuania. The aim was to protect more than 90% of the Emys orbicularis individuals in the north European lowlands and to demonstrate the validity of protection measures for Bombina bombina and Triturus cristatus as well as other amphibian species such as Hyla arborea and Pelobates fuscus.


The NELEAP project improved the conservation status of its targets species: the European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis), European fire-bellied toad (Bombina bombina) and the great crested newt (Triturus cristatus).

It first carried out preparatory actions, such as developing monitoring methods and defining the favourable conservation status for turtles and amphibians. It also carried out an evaluation of the ponds, and turtle hibernation and nesting sites, ahead of drawing up action and local management plans and genetic studies. For the foreseen actions, it was necessary to purchase or lease land and develop buffer zones and compensation measures.

Conservation work included pond restoration and digging, the creation of nesting and hibernation sites for turtles, and the implementation of a sustainable grazing regime. To ensure the sites’ continued management, agreements were concluded. Furthermore an extensive awareness campaign was carried out to improve the knowledges of experts and local communities.

International experience exchange was vital to the success of the project. The impact of the project actions was monitored up to 2009. Data show that restored habitats can be quickly colonised by species. Newly dug or restored ponds acquire within 2-3 years typical vegetation, fauna and ecological qualities favourable for the target species. Knowledge acquired from pond projects for the conservation of amphibians is being transferred throughout Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania and Poland.

The After-LIFE conservation plan sets out measures for maintaining the restored habitats. The farms in the project sites will ensure long-term management, supported by the agri-environmental schemes and the farming of cattle. In Poland, the Directorate of Forestry in Olsztyn is taking care of the nature reserves in forest areas, while in the west of the country, the sites will be managed by Klub Pzryrodnikov through other national projects. The Bialowezha National Park has a long-term management plan for the nature reserve in Bialowezha forest and its surroundings. In Germany land purchase and registering of the land for nature conservation will help protect habitats.

The continuation of the project results was also boosted by an educational campaign aimed at schools, which included turtle days. The beneficiaries hope that the value of amphibians will become an interesting conversation topic for visitors in B&Bs on farms in southern Lithuania.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Species - Amphibians


protected area‚  nature conservation

Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...

Target species

 Bombina bombina   Emys orbicularis   Triturus cristatus 

Target Habitat types

  • 6430 - Hydrophilous tall herb fringe communities of plains and of the montane to alpine levels
  • 6450 - Northern boreal alluvial meadows
  • 7140 - Transition mires and quaking bogs
  • 7150 - Depressions on peat substrates of the Rhynchosporion
  • 7210 - Calcareous fens with Cladium mariscus and species of the Caricion davallianae
  • 7230 - Alkaline fens
  • 91E0 - "Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (Alno-Padion, Alnion incanae, Salicion albae)"
  • 3150 - Natural eutrophic lakes with Magnopotamion or Hydrocharition - type vegetation
  • 3160 - Natural dystrophic lakes and ponds
  • 3260 - Water courses of plain to montane levels with the Ranunculion fluitantis and Callitricho-Batrachion vegetation
  • 6270 - Fennoscandian lowland species-rich dry to mesic grasslands

Natura 2000 sites

SPA PLB280007 Puszcza Napiwodzko-Ramucka
SCI PLC200004 Puszcza Białowieska
SCI DE2847303 Kölpinsee
SCI DE2948304 Poratzer Moränenlandschaft
SCI DE2950301 Breitenteichsche Mühle
SCI DE3050301 Brodowin-Oderberg
SCI DE3243301 Oberes Rhinluch
SCI DE3450303 Stobbertal
SCI LTALY0005 Zuvinto ezeras ir Buktos miskas
SCI LTLAZ0001 Kuciuliskes kaimo apylinkes
SCI LTLAZ0020 Petrosku miskas
SCI LTLAZ0022 Slavanteles upes slenis
SCI PLH080007 Buczyna Szprotawsko-Piotrowicka
SCI PLH280009 Bieńkowo



Coordinator Lithuanian Fund for Nature
Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description The Lithuanian Fund for Nature (LFN) is a non governmental organisation in charge of five programmes: environment policy and management, nature protection and site management, agriculture and rural development, ecological education, Baltic coastal conservation and protection of the Curonian Lagoon. The Nature Protection and Site Management Programme covers the conservation of biodiversity and its status assessment, protection of rare and endangered species, the drawing up and implementation of site management and species action plans, and the selection and management of protected areas.
Partners Landschaftsförderverein (LFV) Oberes Rhinluch e.V., Germany Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (AGUG), Germany Žuvintas Biosphere Reserve (ŽBR), Lithuania Veisiejai Regional Park (VRP), Lithuania Meteliai Regional Park (MRP), Lithuania Pólnocnopodlaskie Towarzystwo Ochrony Ptaków (PTOP) (Poland) Białowieski Park Narodowy (BNP), Poland Klub Przyrodników (Klub Prz), Poland Arbeitsgemeinschaft Natur- und Artenschutz e.V. (Agena e.V.), Germany


Project reference LIFE05 NAT/LT/000094
Duration 08-JAN-2005 to 31-DEC -2009
Total budget 2,346,185.00 €
EU contribution 1,161,373.00 €
Project location Brandenburg(Deutschland) Associated Lithuania (LT)(Lithuania Lietuva) Associated Poland (PL)(Poland Polska)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website
Publication: Layman report Layman report (LT version)
Publication: Technical report Project's Final technical report


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