23 April 2018 by Chris Cathrine | Comments: 0
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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
17 February 2017 by Chris Cathrine | Comments: 0
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Chris Cathrine has taken on a volunteer role with Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK (ARG UK), as Scottish Policy Adviser. Having stepped down as Scottish Representative in 2014 before the arrival of his first son, he has remained involved with the conservation of reptiles and amphibians – which, along with spiders and beetles first engaged him with the natural world as a child. With the future of UK environmental protection currently uncertain, he felt it was necessary to dedicate more time to supporting ARG UK in their efforts to influence future policy for the benefit of Scotland’s native reptiles and amphibians. This role offers the perfect opportunity for this.
Chris brings his experience gained through writing great crested newt and reptile survey and mitigation guidelines, researching Scottish grass snake distribution and over ten years as a professional ecologist (in consultancy, conservation charities and local authority), as well as almost three decades of surveying for these wonderful but often overlooked animals.
We feel it is essential that Caledonian Conservation Ltd gives back to communities as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility. As such, we support conservation charities (through financial donation, in-kind contributions and expertise), conduct in-house research, support other research (through financial donation and provision of resources), provide training, deliver public talks to raise awareness of wildlife, run events for children to share our enthusiasm for the natural world and make as much of our publications and data available publicly (via our publications page and NBN Gateway).
For more information about ARG-UK, visit: www.arguk.org
23 November 2016 by Chris Cathrine | Comments: 0
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Caledonian Conservation Ltd presented a case study of reptile mitigation work we have been undertaking in Scotland at a conference on 9th October 2016 in Cheddar focussing on adder conservation in the UK - The Vanishing Viper: Priorities for adder conservation (organised by Amphibian & Reptile Groups of the UK and Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust).
The case study involves an underground cable route which will connect RES Ltd Freasdail Wind Farm to the grid. This route crosses over 10 km of reptile habitat where adders, common lizards and slow-worms are present. However, the construction methods are relatively low impact and transient. As the erection of a reptile fence of such length would have a greater negative effect than the construction itself, an innovative approach was developed to avoid harm to reptiles during works. This contrasts with the construction of the wind farm itself, where traditional reptile mitigation using fencing was appropriate.
The presentation was given while works were still in progress, however construction of the cable has since finished and no evidence of harm to reptiles has been recorded. Therefore, in this case, we conclude that the approach developed was appropriate for Freasdail Wind Farm. However, at present there is no formal published guidance on reptile mitigation in the UK and this is urgently needed to help protect these special animals.
We hope to publish a detailed article on the mitigation approach and results in the future, so that other ecologists may learn from this work in the absence of formal guidance.
As Director Chris Cathrine was expecting the imminent arrival of his second child, Ian Bradley (Ecological Clerk of Works for much of the project) kindly delivered the presentation, which is available to download here.
For more information about RES Ltd, go to: http://www.res-group.com/en
For more information about Amphibian & Reptile Groups of the UK, go to: http://www.arguk.org
For more information about Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust, go to: http://www.arc-trust.org