The UK's statutory nature conservation organisations have announced the commencement of the 6th 'Quinquennial Review' (QQR) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA).
Do reptiles live on floodplains? It is a question I have often asked myself, and usually concluded that the answer is largely 'no.' The obvious exception is the grass snake, a highy mobile species, at home in agricultural and managed landscapes, and a good swimmer.
An open letter to Justin McCracken, Chief Executive of the Health Protection Agency, in response to their press release "County walking? Think snakes..." (23/5/12):
(First published on 18/4/12 on the ARGUK website www.arguk.org)
Recent media attention has highlighted the impact of current drought conditions on natterjack toad breeding success. Natterjack breeding ponds are typically shallow sandy pools which dry up in some years. This is good for keeping predators in check, but with several consecutive dry winters and springs, it poses a serious threat to breeding success.
Britain's freshwater environments are host to many invasive alien species, from amphibians to plants, crayfish to fungus. Today saw the deadline of a Europe-wide consultation on how we should deal with them.
Defra's Non-Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) has announced very worrying news for Britain's trees. An outbreak of the Asian longhorn beetle (ALB), an exotic beetle pest which could have severe consequences for British trees, has been found in Kent the Food and Environment Research Agency confirmed today. This is the first time an outbreak of this pest has been found in the UK and it is being treated extremely seriously.
The UK Government today released its long-awaited National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The document contains 57 pages of guidelines that replace all previous planning guidance, including Planning Policy Statement 9 on biodiversity and geological conservation.
Britain's only venomous snake, the adder (Vipera berus), has often been in the news over the last year or so. Fears over its apparent decline have raised media attention across the UK, but rarely does a lowly reptile precipitate such fuss as a parliamentary question and a note in Hansard!
Many of you will be unaware that Britain was once home to some rather exotic species - including freshwater turtles. Today, the European pond terrapin Emys orbicularis is confined to warmer parts of Europe today, but during the 'Atlantic warm period' about 6000-9000 years ago, this warm-loving species was able to thrive in Norfolk of all places.
After years of speculation, it's now official - grass snakes are native to Scotland.
Conventional wisdom has always maintained that the grass snake (Natrix natrix) is native to England and Wales, but not to Scotland. Its northern range edge curiously matches the Scottish border, but the occasional reports of grass snakes north of the border have always been dismissed as erroneous.