28 January 2013

We are the (Species) Champions!

Scottish amphibians have this week gained some powerful new allies in the fight for their conservation, as an exciting new initiative called ‘Species Champions’ made a splash in Scottish Parliament.

The initiative coordinated by Scottish Environment LINK’s wildlife forum, of which Froglife is a member, invites MSPs to choose from a list of species that are currently facing significant threats to their future – and then champion their survival. Froglife suggested 3 amphibians (Common Toad, Natterjack Toad and Great Crested Newt) and 3 reptiles (Adder, Common Lizard and Slow-worm) and then had a nervous wait to see if our species were chosen.

We need not have worried, as amphibians proved to be a very popular choice amongst MSP’s, with all 3 species finding an MSP to champion their cause within days of the list being published. Drew Smith, Scottish Labour MSP for Glasgow, is championing the Common Toad and is already looking forward to being involved in a toad patrol as part of Froglife’s ‘Toads on Roads’ project. Elaine Murray, Scottish Labour MSP for Dumfries & Galloway, is championing the Natterjack Toad, whose entire Scottish population falls within her constituency.

John Wilson, Scottish Nationalist Party MSP for central Scotland, is the champion for the Great Crested Newt. John is keen to help Froglife’s work conserving the species and when asked about why he was keen to become a champion, John responsed “...I have a particular interest in environmental issues. I am also aware of some of the pressure on amphibians due to housing and other developments which have a dramatic impact on urban wildlife.”

MSP Drew Smith, Froglife's Rob Williams and MSP Elaine Murray at the Species Champions event last week

Rob Williams, Froglife’s Conservation Coordinator for Scotland, praised the initiative.  “Species Champions is a great idea and provides a direct link between conservation NGO’s and Scottish Parliament," commented Rob.  "We hope by working closely with our MSP champions we can make a positive impact on the big decisions affecting our species. Froglife will also continue working hard to make sure the 3 reptile species find MSP champions before the initiative officially launches in spring.”

Photo: Nick Underdown – ScotLINK

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