Marwell ARGUK meeting a great success

The Southeast England regional meeting of the Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the United Kingdom (ARGUK) held at Marwell Wildlife, Hampshire, on Saturday 17 November 2012 was a great success.

The meeting attracted 90 participants, and comprised a series of speakers and discussions. Full marks to John Poland and Sarah Bignell from Hampshire Amphibian and Reptile Group (HARG) for organising the meeting, and to Marwell Wildlife for hosting it.

Chris Gleed-Owen (CGO Ecology Ltd) gave the opening presentation, on the subject of survey and mitigation guidelines, and how far open to interpretation they should be.

Jim Foster (Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust - ARC) also spoke about guidance, and the pros and cons of having statutory standards. His talk stirred much discussion, and some well-needed laughter about the hypothetical use of beermat-sized felts.

Martin Noble (New Forest Ecological Consultants) gave a synopsis of the sand lizard captive breeding programme in the UK.

Paul Edgar (Natural England) outlined the opportunities for herpetofauna conservation in the new 'Biodiversity 2020' initiative (aka 'England Biodiversity Strategy').

John Buckley (ARC) gave us a refresher of the story so far of the pool frog's reintroduction to England, and the current status of the Norfolk population.

Unfortunately this writer had to depart before the afternoon session (to attend a Conch Soc meeting), but not before catching up with many old friends and a few new acquaintances.

The afternoon session was by all accounts a great success too, with presentations from Jamel Guenioui (Surrey Widlife Trust) on reptile surveillance across Surrey, Adrian Barnes (volunteer surveyor) on smooth snakes in the New Forest, and Jon Cranfield (Herpetologic Ltd) on the reptile mitigation industry.