1 February 2013

Partnership Work with TCV in Cumbernauld

Time has whizzed by since Faith Hillier started with Froglife through the Conservation Volunteers Natural Talent programme.  As part of her community engagement role, Faith worked with local people to show them the wildlife of Ravenswood Local Nature Reserve in Cumbernauld.

“This reserve is one of the sites chosen for pond creation as part of Froglife’s ‘Living Waters North Lanarkshire’ project,” explains Faith.  Her work involved completing a survey of residents to gauge their opinions of the reserve, how they use it, how often and what they would like to see happen there in the future.  “The results of the survey were positive and indicated the high level of interest of people in their local green space.  In order to share the delights of this special place, a series of events were held for local people."

The first was a mini-bioblitz, which consisted of pond dipping, a bug hunt and a plant walk.  The next event was a green gym taster day held with TCV.  Despite the torrential rain, two people came along to help dig a pond.  The Woodland Craft event was held with the North Lanarkshire Council rangers, and people came to make wooden dragonflies and have a go on the wood lathe.

As a result of these events, a community meeting was held to discuss how the community could come together to raise the profile of the reserve.  This is to be done through Citizen Science – involving local people in recording the wildlife they see around them.  This will include birds, butterflies, amphibians, reptiles, plants and more.

Faith with Alyson from The Conservation Volunteers digging a pond
“There are lots of surveys available for people to contribute to and it is great fun! Primary and secondary schools can join in and make use of the wonderful teaching resources on their doorstep,” concludes Faith.  “Hopefully this project will continue well into the future, encouraging people of all ages to discover and record wildlife.”

Faith is off to pastures new following the end of her apprenticeship, best of luck from all the Froglife team, and thanks for your hard work!

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