RAUK - Archived Forum - Global amphibians in deep trouble

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Global amphibians in deep trouble:

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GemmaJF
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Posted: 15 Oct 2004
Global amphibians in deep trouble
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Gemma Fairchild, Independent Ecological Consultant
Robert V
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Joined: 06 Aug 2004
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Posted: 15 Oct 2004

 

Gemma,

reports like this always sadden but not suprise me. I'm not a pessimist but I do think our own reptile and amphibian populations are on the slide. When I was young, places like Woolacombe in Devon, Epping Forest and even Ampthill park in Bedfordshire used to be abundant with Adders, common lizards or frogs/toads. When the tiny frogs used to leave the ponds, they used to be like a moving carpet of tiny bodies.

This year I visited a couple of ponds in EF a few times around the time that froglets would usually emerge from the water and found.........2!! 2, I ask you. I can't believe that I'm the only one struggling to find specimens, that used to be hard to avoid. R   


RobV
GemmaJF
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Posted: 15 Oct 2004

Rob, my main reason for giving up any hope of a sensible career was seeing adder and grass snake decline over 20 years at a site very important to me in childhood. I'm glad to say in this case they are still there but changes in habitat down the years had caused them concentrate into a small area (100% support from the NT management team at the site is turning this around nicely)

I know of some sites where I can still see hundreds of toadlets and adder in local abundance, though totally agree declines are very very real. We should all be pulling together to study sites where animals are still thriving and working out why at some sites populations appear to be crashing. The KRAG 'Adders in Decline Project' will involve long-term monitoring of adder sites in Kent, I know that Jon C is keen to see Essex arg take on a similar project and I will help all I can.

I'm totally at odds with things at the moment. I've been actively involved in EN's London Adder Project.. I've also surveyed a site that is SNCI just outside of the M25 for KRAG with a good population of adder, nothing seems to be able to stop its future development, I do wonder what on earth is the point at times.

The real problem I see is the total disregard for good and exceptional populations in local planning. We have a local pond here in Essex where this spring I estimated that toad taddies were shoaling in the tens of thousands (you would have to see it to believe it), it's due to become a retail park. The consultant called in described the area as 'of low ecological value'.. I mean I ask you one could despair at it all.


Gemma Fairchild, Independent Ecological Consultant
Vicar
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Joined: 02 Sep 2004
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Posted: 15 Oct 2004

Interestingly Gemma....this is just the sort of situation which makes me want to fight even harder !

I suspect public opinion is a vital factor here, and I'm sure many of the herp orgs have plans to increase public awareness...and are formulating methods to engage the public. (I just don't know enough yet to know what these are :P)

I would have thought this requires a long-term strategy, particularly engaging kids, so they grow up with a positive and caring perspective wrt herps. Personally I remember school trips and my early interactions with 'nature' vividly. Catching GCN at Chiselhurst, Kent (are they still there Lee ??) ermm...more years ago than I care to remember ! has stayed with me through life.

I just hope we have decent herp populations when they do become lobbying members of the public ! - I for one will fight tooth and nail to do all I can to ensure they do.

 


Steve Langham - Chairman    
Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group (SARG).
Robert V
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Joined: 06 Aug 2004
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Posted: 16 Oct 2004

Gemma and Steve,

that comment about 'low ecological value' is typical of the ignorance running through the ranks of the so-called experts in central and local government. I really think that we should push to get all of the native herps placed on a higher footing and protected now. If you think that sounds completely mad, look at the example of the house sparrow. All over the place one minute, the next locally extinct in places and drastically reduced in numbers all over. Do either of you know which department of government is responsible for the protection of species etc?

i feel a campaign coming on! R


RobV
GemmaJF
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Posted: 18 Oct 2004

I don't think it is completely mad at all. I would like to see adder given habitat protection tomorrow. Though being perhaps a little more aware of the powers that be and those  involved, I can tell you now we won't see it. There are those that will not want to see adder elevated to the realms of sand lizard and smooth snakes. One also has to consider that the WCA came about through European legislation, adder being probably the most widespread snake on the planet will not gain further European legislation. So we are unlikely to see greater protecting in the UK regardless of the fact that evidence is mounting of declines on a national scale.

Still if it's all left to local authorities (in reference to the concurrent GCN thread) it doesn't really matter what legislation we have as it is rarely adheared to.

The site that is SNCI (or which ever acronym you wish depending on the county involved) I referred to has simply been left out of the local authorities plan, very conveniently. They argue that as the site was selected for development 20 years ago that they will not reconise the SNCI status that has since been granted. Convenient isn't it, to simply not reconise that in 20 years a site may have become colonised by wildlife. Worse still this approach has been upheld by the local planning expectorate.

Of course now they can just say we'll move the adders off the site.. great the last outpost in NW Kent for adder, lets just move them.. where to I wonder and where is the evidence that translocation of adult adder actually works.

Steve, I think args need to start to concentrate on being members organisations, to get people of all ages actively involved, it's an area I will be concentration on with KRAG over the next year. I agree that the very young are best targetted.. after all the reason I'm sat here typing now is that my dad caught a smooth newt when I was six..I haven't forgotten the best beasty I had ever seen :0)


Gemma Fairchild, Independent Ecological Consultant
Mike
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Joined: 15 Feb 2003
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Posted: 18 Oct 2004
Summary of the Global Amphibian Assesment is at www.globalamphibians.org/summary.htm
Brickfields Park FREE 25th Anniversary Funday, 4th July 2010.
Wildlife, Farm Animals, games, quizzes, refreshments and more. Fun for all.
See - http://www.brickfieldspark.org/dates.htm

- Global amphibians in deep trouble

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