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A new guidance document for reptile survey and mitigation in peatland habitats has been published by Amphibian & Reptile Groups of the UK (ARG UK), supported by Froglife, the Herpetological Society of Ireland (the HSI), and Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC Trust). The publication of this document is significant, as there has long been a guidance vacuum for reptiles – this goes a small way to filling that gap.
All native reptile species are legally protected in the UK and Ireland, and so consideration should be given to mitigation to avoid committing an offence under the relevant nation-specific legislation (note that wildlife protection law is devolved and varies between individual UK countries).
The document, authored by Caledonian Conservation Ltd Director Chris Cathrine, focuses on Scotland where peatland habitats are extensive. However, it could be applied to England, Wales, Northern Ireland, or Ireland where peatland habitats also occur. The guidance is intended to assist in designing mitigation for impacts on reptiles during peatland restoration works but the methods described may also be suitable for the construction phase of some developments on these habitats. Similarly, some of the approaches described could be adapted, with care, for reptiles occurring on other habitats.
The guidance provides information on peatland reptile ecology, potential impacts, survey methods, and approaches to mitigation to avoid harm to reptiles and construct hibernation features. A decision tree flow chart is also provided, to help site managers to consider reptiles while planning works.
The new Reptile Survey and Mitigation Guidance for Peatland Habitats document can be downloaded at: https://www.arguk.org/info-advice/advice-notes/414-10-advice-note-10-reptile-survey-and-mitigation-guidance-for-peatland-habitats