10 June 2011

Newt Farming!

Froglife’s Ponds in the Landscape project has confirmed that farmland and private estates have the potential to be fantastic amphibian habitats, not least for the declining great crested newt.

Froglife has just completed a two year project digging and restoring ponds on sites throughout Cambridgeshire. This has involved improving the connectivity between ponds and strengthening the mosaic of habitats to shore up great crested newt populations across the county. The results were impressive - on one site alone we recorded a whopping 146 newts, making it one of the most important populations in Cambridgeshire!

“This is a really solid piece of conservation work, focussing on landowner liaison and habitat enhancement,” said Paul Furnborough, Conservation Officer. “We’ve been able to engage with new audiences and facilitate conservation on a landscape scale.”

Farmers and landowners, encouraged by a love of wildlife and the financial value great crested newts can bring in the form of Higher Level Stewardship, have undertaken the habitat work supported by Froglife and our partners. The project report takes the form of an advice booklet which is full of practical tips and case studies to advise land managers now the project has come to completion.

A copy of Amphibian Ponds in Farmed Landscapes can be downloaded for free here or you can order a paper copy of the booklet from our Frogalogue.

Building on the success of our landscape scale pond projects we have expanded our Glasgow Living Waters project into North Lanarkshire and we are currently looking at taking this successful model to new geographical areas.

Ponds in the Landscape was funded by Natural England’s Countdown 2010 Biodiversity Action Fund and was delivered in partnership with Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northampton and Peterborough and the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG).

You can find out more about newts here.

You can find out more about the benefits of Higher Level Stewardship at Natural England’s site here.

You can support our groundbreaking work to improve the outlook for newts here.

7 June 2011

Froglife volunteer scoops green award

Froglife is very pleased to announce that one of our youngest volunteers has had her achievements recognised at a local awards ceremony. Amy Hamlett was awarded Young Green Achiever of the Year at Saturday night’s Huntingdonshire Green Heart Community Awards.

Amy began volunteering with Froglife when she was just five years old and over the last seven years has developed into an enthusiastic and thoughtful young person who’s taken the lead on many environmental projects and fundraising initiatives.

“We’re so proud of Amy,” said Froglife’s Cacey Barks who nominated Amy for the award. “She’s always so eager to get involved – helping Froglife comes as second nature to her! Whether it’s making papier mache toads or doing a Fun Run we know we can rely on Amy to do a wonderful job of whatever she can. She’s done some incredible things and it’s great for her hard work to be recognised with this award.”

Amy’s achievements include acting as a Froglife representative at various events, helping to spread our message, and taking part in some amazing fundraising activities – earlier this year she completed a 3000m swim for our Tuppence a Toad campaign. Amy also helped found the Eco Club at Farcet School and was involved in developing the Secret Garden – a project which was key to the school receiving their Eco Schools Green Flag Award.

“When they said my name and I realised I’d won I didn’t think it was real, it was so much of a surprise!” said Amy on receiving her award. “I enjoy doing charity work because I know it helps the things the charity supports but I also just enjoy doing things out and about. I really like getting muddy so digging ponds is a perfect thing for me to do! Froglife is the charity I support the most because not only does my mum work there but I love the animals too - frogs are cute and snakes aren’t slimy even though people think they are!”

Amy faced some stiff competition from the other finalists, who all deserve a mention:

- Rebecca Harrold has been heavily involved with her school’s Fairtrade initiative and has helped numerous local conservation projects through her work as a Girlguide.

- Isabelle Childerly is one of Thorndown Junior School’s Eco-Rangers, who works hard to improve the environmental impact of the school. Isabelle has helped make and display posters to remind pupils and staff to save energy.

- Sonia Taylor is a sixth form leader on Hinchingbrooke School’s student council. She keeps a close eye on her school’s recycling scheme and has planned, negotiated and launched the aptly named ‘obLITTERate’ campaign.

The award ceremony was held at St Ives Corn Exchange on Saturday 4th June; local organisations, businesses and individuals from across the region were all recognised for their green credentials. Froglife’s National Science and Engineering Week exhibit was shortlisted in the Best Environmental Project category but lost out to Huntingdon in Bloom.

The whole Froglife team would like to say a big CONGRATULATIONS to Amy on her award! Keep up the good work!

Find out more about volunteering with Froglife here.

Photos by Duane Hamlett

6 June 2011

Glasgow-Trinidad froglinks

Froglife trustee Roger Downie is involved in a British Council-funded Global Schools Partnership link between schools in Glasgow and Trinidad (West Indies). Here he tells us more about what this project is up to...

"Running over three years, a major theme of the link is biodiversity, and it’s been decided to concentrate on birds, gardens and amphibians. The aim of the link is to help children to learn about each others lives and environments through the development of new learning materials and experiences."

Roger and his Glasgow University students have been visiting Trinidad for many years, mainly researching frog and turtle biology, so they are well placed to contribute to the link.

The incredible male stream frog....

"This year, the Glasgow students are presenting a short play to Primary Schools in Glasgow and Trinidad. Called ‘Manno the stream frog’s great adventure’, the play tells of a stream frog’s quest to find a suitable stream for the tadpoles he is carrying on his back. Based on research done by Glasgow students, Manno encounters many hazards on his way including tadpole-eating fish, snakes and cannibalistic tadpoles."

...storing tadpoles on his back!

For secondary schools, Roger and his team have developed a ‘treasure-trail’ style exercise where pupils will learn about biodiversity in both Scotland and Trinidad, the similarities and the differences. Despite its small size, Trinidad has many more species of plants and animals than Scotland (over 30 species of frog, for example). The ‘trail’ will be tested out at this year’s Glasgow Science Festival which also includes Froglife events run by the Glasgow Living Waters team.

You can find out more about the Glasgow Science Festival here

You can find out more about Froglife's work in Scotland here