As spring approaches, at least in theory, the verges of the A338 Spur Road near Bournemouth are set to see a lot of activity. With the Christmas period over, and much of the vegetation clearance now completed, CGO Ecology has begun supervision of reptile exclusion fence installation with Dorset County Council. This is necessary before capture and removal of reptiles on the verges in the spring. The work will continue over the next few weeks along stretches of verge that are contiguous with large areas of reptile habitat such as heathland. In such areas, reptiles will keep re-colonising the verges from neighbouring land unless the temporary fencing is put in place.
As the 2009 reptile and amphibian season has drawn to a close, CGO Ecology is now concentrating its efforts on preparatory work for the coming season in 2010. The major maintenance works on the A338 dual carriageway near Bournemouth will require significant clearance works on the road verges, and installation of reptile exclusion fencing in early 2010. Reptile captures will begin in March 2010. Current lane closures are not due to reptile mitigation work. CGO Ecology is also involved in reptile mitigation projects relating to gravel extraction proposals in Ringwood Forest. Current licence applications to Natural England will determine the execution of these projects.
Works are under way to clear scrub and thousands of trees on the A338 verges to make way for the roadworks in summer/autumn 2010. The tree clearance is essential prior to the roadworks and the topographic survey. The clearance has to take place over the winter to avoid bird-nesting season which begins in March. The road works will rebuild 10.5km of road and 21km of drainage ditches along the verges.
Following an extensive reptile survey of the A338's roadside verges, CGO Ecology Ltd is working with Dorset County Council and Natural England on a plan to protect reptiles. The 10.5-km stretch of dual carriageway from Ashley Heath to Cooper Dean roundabout is due for major rebuilding works in 2010, and the roadside habitats support rare reptiles protected by law. DCC has commissioned CGO Ecology as its advisors on reptile conservation issues. The spring 2009 survey identified that reptiles are absent from Blackwater to Cooper Dean, but they are widespread along the verges from Ashley Heath to Blackwater. Sand lizards and smooth snakes were found along several stretches, and mitigation is required to rescue these and other reptiles before the works commence. The tree felling associated with the works will actually improve reptile populations eventually, but during the works themselves, the reptiles will have to be moved to nearby sites specially prepared for them.
The UK's two main herpetofauna charities - Froglife and The Herpetological Conservation Trust (the HCT) - have today merged to form a single new charity called 'Amphibian and Reptile Conservation’. Traditionally, Froglife focused its efforts on awareness and public campaigns, whereas the HCT's emphasis was on rare species conservation and managing 80 nature reserves.
The Dorset Amphibian and Reptile Network (DARN) is a communication and action network set up to further the conservation of native amphibians and reptiles in the county of Dorset. Membership is by inclusion on an email circulation list, and the group is run by volunteers.
CGO Ecology has been commissioned by Dorset County Council to carry out a reptile survey of the A338 Spur Road north of Bournemouth, Dorset. The 8.5 km road will be subject to a £27-million 'rebuild' over the next two years, with barrier upgrades and verge drainage renewal.