Amphibian & Reptile Conservation

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Amphibian & Reptile Conservation's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Amphibian & Reptile Conservation is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.arc-trust.org

BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
13AMPHIBIAN & REPTILE CONSERVATION |
ENVIRONMENT, FOOD & RURAL AFFAIRS
CEO Dr Tony Gent
Partnership working has enabled ARC to share
its expertise with other wildlife organisations,
supporting native species such as the pool frog
The Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust is a UK-based
wildlife conservation charity; its mission is to ensure that
our native frogs, toads, lizards, newts and snakes and the
habitats they live in, survive and thrive. The charity manages
nature reserves and takes forward a range of conservation
initiatives including implementing conservation plans which
include reintroducing species, providing expert advice, running
survey programmes and influencing policy. CEO Dr Tony Gent
tells
The Parliamentary Review
that ARC has an impressive track
record, with its origins in the Herpetological Conservation Trust
that was itself founded some 20 years prior.
In the UK, we have seven species of amphibian – three newts and two each of
frogs and toads – and six species of reptiles – three lizards and three snakes – as
part of our native fauna; in addition, one species of marine turtle, the leatherback,
has been recorded in British waters sufficiently often that we consider this part of
the species’ natural range.
While the common frog and common lizard occur in all of the countries of the UK,
others have a much more restricted distribution, such as the smooth snake that is
confined to the heaths of southern Britain and the pool frog which occurs at only
two sites in Norfolk. In addition, there are another four in the Channel Islands and
around a further 150 species in the other UK crown dependencies and overseas
territories, including those found nowhere else in the world and a number that are
critically endangered.
FACTS ABOUT
AMPHIBIAN & REPTILE
CONSERVATION
»CEO: Dr Tony Gent
»Founded in 2009
»Based in Dorset
»Services: Management of
nature reserves, conservation
programmes including
species reintroduction,
advice, training, public
education, science and survey
programmes
»No. of employees: 35
»Annual budget of £2 million,
which is mostly funded
through agri-environment
schemes, grants, legacies and
fundraising
»Established by the
Herpetological Conservation
Trust in 2009
Amphibian & Reptile
Conservation
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
14 | AMPHIBIAN & REPTILE CONSERVATION
This total may appear small in the
context of the estimated 7,650 species
of amphibian and 10,700 species of
reptile found across the globe. However,
they form a significant part of our
natural environment and of our British
cultural history – from Beatrix Potter and
Toad of Toad Hall, to key religious texts
and even the notable achievements of
patron saints. Furthermore, these are
part of our contribution to conserving
global biodiversity.
The conservation challenge
Amphibians and reptiles are under
threat. The loss and degradation of
the habitats on which they depend has
been a major factor contributing to
their decline. Pond numbers in England
and Wales have decreased dramatically
from 800,000 in the late 19th century
to around 200,000 in 1980s which
have in turn impacted on amphibian
populations. Heathland, the only
habitat occupied by all six of our native
reptile species, lost around 85 to 90
per cent of the southern English heaths
since the late 18th century.
Even where amphibians and reptiles
are still found, their habitats often
need to be managed sensitively.
Previously held in check by processes
such as erosion, grazing or through
low intensity agriculture, natural
succession can create areas that are too
shaded or too dense with vegetation
for these species to survive and breed.
Conversely, too much disturbance,
overly intensive management or
wildfires can remove the very features
these species need topersist.
The animals themselves suffer direct
threats – persecution, exploitation and
predation, for example from domestic
cats, remain as on-going concerns
and the significance of threats from
diseases and the impacts of non-
native species are becoming ever
moreapparent.
One of the key ways ARC tackles this is
through our nature reserves; we own
24 and manage 80, covering some
1,900 hectares – 4,000 acres – overall.
Elsewhere we work in partnership to
restore habitats for rare species and
reintroduce them to sites from which
they have been lost. We have helped
restore natterjack toads to 17 sites and
sand lizards to over 70 – with 2019
seeing the release of the 10,000th
sand lizard via a reintroduction
programme. The pool frog became
extinct in the UK by the 1990s but
ARC plays a key role in restoring it to
sites in Norfolk. Similarly, for the more
widespread species, we encourage
positive management across the
country – providing support and
advice for managers of nature reserves
and of open spaces, farmers and
gardenersalike.
We partner with many other
organisations to achieve conservation
at landscape-scale, and notably
through projects such as the National
Lottery Heritage Fund-supported “Back
from the Brink” programme.
Our two annual conferences, the
Herpetofauna Workers’ Meeting
and Science Meeting, run with
partners, provide valuable forums for
discussing the latest discoveries and
developments among enthusiasts.
Left: Sand lizards have
been restored to over 70
sites including bringing
the species back to
north Wales following its
extinction there
Right: ARC patron Chris
Packham
We have
helped restore
natterjack
toads to 17
sites and sand
lizards to over
70 – with 2019
seeing the
release of the
10,000th sand
lizard via a
reintroduction
programme
15AMPHIBIAN & REPTILE CONSERVATION |
ENVIRONMENT, FOOD & RURAL AFFAIRS
The image challenge
Our amphibians and reptiles have a
PR problem: they are neither fluffy
nor furry and some people find
them scary. This matters because an
appreciation and understanding of
these animals underpins behaviour,
policy and the success of projects
andfundraising.
We tackle this challenge by building
on the interest that often starts with
frogspawn in the garden or school
pond. For many people this is their
first wildlife experience and can
prompt a lifelong love of nature.
Others develop a fascination with our
native “dragons” or an awe of snakes
through children’s literature and their
cultural significance. We run an active
educational programme to turn this
interest into inspiration.
The policy challenge
ARC meets the challenge of
influencing policy and legislation in a
number of imaginative ways.
Our specialist staff provide expert
advice and guidance to policy-makers;
we contribute to the governmental
biodiversity strategies in England,
Wales and Scotland, and provide
advocacy to promote biodiversity
benefits as new legislation and policy
are developed. We actively pursue
new approaches for addressing great
crested newt conservation in areas
that are being developed – creating
benefits for both the newts and for
thedevelopers.
To conserve species we need to
educate and inform; thus we run
national monitoring programmes,
involving professionals and citizen
scientists, and apply new and
innovative ways of studying them –
including the use of environmental
DNA, remote sensing imagery and
computer modelling. These provide
both valuable data that we feed
into national reporting and status
assessments, and opportunities for
people to engage with the species. We
also oversee a range of science projects
to improve our understanding about
these species.
The future challenge
Sustainability is a major challenge
for the future – for the species,
habitats and the financial security that
underpins our work. By becoming an
ARC volunteer, a corporate supporter
or engaging with our Expert Days
people have the chance to contribute
to helping these species and their
habitats in which they live; and the
opportunity to get out in the open air,
feel fitter and meet new people while
doing so.
We need to see stronger and more
effective policy and legislation to
support this – and fit for purpose,
well run funding regimes to help land
managers play their part in conserving
our wildlife. These will help improve
our own environment and allow the
UK to provide a leading role in helping
the planet.
We actively
pursue new
approaches for
addressing great
crested newt
conservation in
areas that are
being developed
– creating
benefits for
both the newts
and for the
developers
Smooth snakes have
been given a great boost
this year with lottery
funding for a four-year
citizen science and
education programme in
southern England
BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
14 | AMPHIBIAN & REPTILE CONSERVATION
This total may appear small in the
context of the estimated 7,650 species
of amphibian and 10,700 species of
reptile found across the globe. However,
they form a significant part of our
natural environment and of our British
cultural history – from Beatrix Potter and
Toad of Toad Hall, to key religious texts
and even the notable achievements of
patron saints. Furthermore, these are
part of our contribution to conserving
global biodiversity.
The conservation challenge
Amphibians and reptiles are under
threat. The loss and degradation of
the habitats on which they depend has
been a major factor contributing to
their decline. Pond numbers in England
and Wales have decreased dramatically
from 800,000 in the late 19th century
to around 200,000 in 1980s which
have in turn impacted on amphibian
populations. Heathland, the only
habitat occupied by all six of our native
reptile species, lost around 85 to 90
per cent of the southern English heaths
since the late 18th century.
Even where amphibians and reptiles
are still found, their habitats often
need to be managed sensitively.
Previously held in check by processes
such as erosion, grazing or through
low intensity agriculture, natural
succession can create areas that are too
shaded or too dense with vegetation
for these species to survive and breed.
Conversely, too much disturbance,
overly intensive management or
wildfires can remove the very features
these species need topersist.
The animals themselves suffer direct
threats – persecution, exploitation and
predation, for example from domestic
cats, remain as on-going concerns
and the significance of threats from
diseases and the impacts of non-
native species are becoming ever
moreapparent.
One of the key ways ARC tackles this is
through our nature reserves; we own
24 and manage 80, covering some
1,900 hectares – 4,000 acres – overall.
Elsewhere we work in partnership to
restore habitats for rare species and
reintroduce them to sites from which
they have been lost. We have helped
restore natterjack toads to 17 sites and
sand lizards to over 70 – with 2019
seeing the release of the 10,000th
sand lizard via a reintroduction
programme. The pool frog became
extinct in the UK by the 1990s but
ARC plays a key role in restoring it to
sites in Norfolk. Similarly, for the more
widespread species, we encourage
positive management across the
country – providing support and
advice for managers of nature reserves
and of open spaces, farmers and
gardenersalike.
We partner with many other
organisations to achieve conservation
at landscape-scale, and notably
through projects such as the National
Lottery Heritage Fund-supported “Back
from the Brink” programme.
Our two annual conferences, the
Herpetofauna Workers’ Meeting
and Science Meeting, run with
partners, provide valuable forums for
discussing the latest discoveries and
developments among enthusiasts.
Left: Sand lizards have
been restored to over 70
sites including bringing
the species back to
north Wales following its
extinction there
Right: ARC patron Chris
Packham
We have
helped restore
natterjack
toads to 17
sites and sand
lizards to over
70 – with 2019
seeing the
release of the
10,000th sand
lizard via a
reintroduction
programme
15AMPHIBIAN & REPTILE CONSERVATION |
ENVIRONMENT, FOOD & RURAL AFFAIRS
The image challenge
Our amphibians and reptiles have a
PR problem: they are neither fluffy
nor furry and some people find
them scary. This matters because an
appreciation and understanding of
these animals underpins behaviour,
policy and the success of projects
andfundraising.
We tackle this challenge by building
on the interest that often starts with
frogspawn in the garden or school
pond. For many people this is their
first wildlife experience and can
prompt a lifelong love of nature.
Others develop a fascination with our
native “dragons” or an awe of snakes
through children’s literature and their
cultural significance. We run an active
educational programme to turn this
interest into inspiration.
The policy challenge
ARC meets the challenge of
influencing policy and legislation in a
number of imaginative ways.
Our specialist staff provide expert
advice and guidance to policy-makers;
we contribute to the governmental
biodiversity strategies in England,
Wales and Scotland, and provide
advocacy to promote biodiversity
benefits as new legislation and policy
are developed. We actively pursue
new approaches for addressing great
crested newt conservation in areas
that are being developed – creating
benefits for both the newts and for
thedevelopers.
To conserve species we need to
educate and inform; thus we run
national monitoring programmes,
involving professionals and citizen
scientists, and apply new and
innovative ways of studying them –
including the use of environmental
DNA, remote sensing imagery and
computer modelling. These provide
both valuable data that we feed
into national reporting and status
assessments, and opportunities for
people to engage with the species. We
also oversee a range of science projects
to improve our understanding about
these species.
The future challenge
Sustainability is a major challenge
for the future – for the species,
habitats and the financial security that
underpins our work. By becoming an
ARC volunteer, a corporate supporter
or engaging with our Expert Days
people have the chance to contribute
to helping these species and their
habitats in which they live; and the
opportunity to get out in the open air,
feel fitter and meet new people while
doing so.
We need to see stronger and more
effective policy and legislation to
support this – and fit for purpose,
well run funding regimes to help land
managers play their part in conserving
our wildlife. These will help improve
our own environment and allow the
UK to provide a leading role in helping
the planet.
We actively
pursue new
approaches for
addressing great
crested newt
conservation in
areas that are
being developed
– creating
benefits for
both the newts
and for the
developers
Smooth snakes have
been given a great boost
this year with lottery
funding for a four-year
citizen science and
education programme in
southern England

www.arc-trust.org

This article was sponsored by Amphibian & Reptile Conservation. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.



Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development