|Reconnecting South Wales' Dragons|
|News - Climate Change News|
|Friday, 31 August 2012 14:51|
Reconnecting South Wales' Dragons
By Pete Hill, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation
A new project, the first of its kind, has just begun in South Wales. ‘Reconnecting South Wales' Dragons’ is being undertaken by Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) and is funded by the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) through the Welsh Government Ecosystem Resilience and Diversity fund.
Amphibians and reptiles are essential to our ecosystems. As well as contributing towards maintaining the balance of slug populations and other agricultural ‘pest’ species the animals themselves are in turn prey for a diversity of wildlife. For example, otters are on the increase in Wales. Frogs, toads and newts form a considerable percentage of otter diet so for a healthy otter population we need plenty of amphibians!
Populations of amphibians and reptiles (herpetofauna) in Wales currently have to contend with numerous threats to their existence. In addition to habitat degradation and loss, increased road traffic kills significant numbers of amphibians during the breeding season. As well as being particularly sensitive to the use of herbicides and pesticides our native herpetofauna have to deal with pathogens that are linked to introduced species. Perhaps a less obvious threat, but a serious one none-the-less, is colony separation.
Isolated colonies that are separated from the wider population of animals suffer from dwindling gene pools and ultimately the threat of colony collapse as a result of separation. Reconnecting South Wales` Dragons project aims to address this issue in particular.
The project will deliver habitat creation at sites in South Wales designed to link known populations of Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) priority species (great crested newt, common toad and all reptiles) through community involvement, training, survey and practical habitat works. In particular the project aims to create pond networks, open mosaic habitats and dwarf shrub heath areas connecting with deciduous woodland edge.
It is not just amphibians and reptiles that will benefit from the habitat created by the project. A multitude of plant, invertebrate, bird and small mammal species will also utilise the increased habitat.
Prospective sites are currently being identified across South Wales – including Carmarthenshire. It is intended to implement pond and habitat creation during the winter months of 2012/13 in order to minimise disturbance, which leaves the remainder of the summer of 2012 to survey prospective sites.
Article from the Carmarthenshire Biodiversity Partnership July/August Newsletter.