The Oxford Hotel
Godstow Road, Oxford OX2 8PG
6th & 7th February

This February we set a record for the largest Herpetofauna Workers’ Meeting ever, the annual gathering for those interested in conserving the UK’s reptiles and amphibians. Of course, numbers aren’t everything, but it was fantastic to have more than two hundred enthusiasts working toward a common aim all in one place. The meeting is a joint ARC – ARG UK event, and this year we held it in Oxford for the first time.

We ran five workshops: using the Record Pool (online recording); changes to European Protected Species licensing policy; amphibians in drains; reptile survey guidance; and the great crested newt Habitat Suitability Index. All of them helped to develop skills, shared information, or requested feedback from the audience.

Presentations covered a wide range of themes, with representation from volunteers, scientists, consultants, NGOs and government agencies. Speakers from Suffolk, Herefordshire, Kent and Ireland Amphibian and Reptile groups gave presentations on a long term study of adders, key invertebrate groups to record during surveys, organising toad patrols and citizen science projects.

Natural England explained proposals for new ways to regulate impacts of development on great crested newts and gave a handy update on herp activity in England whilst Scottish Natural Heritage outlined how the standard guidance for great crested newt mitigation is being revised. We also heard from The Highland Council that sustainable drainage schemes - if well designed and maintained - can support thriving common frog populations

Other talks included early results from a study of a large grass snake population in Norfolk, results from environmental DNA surveys, done as part of the PondNet project with the Freshwater Habitats Trust, PhD students from DICE, outlined their studies into the potential impacts of marsh frogs on common frogs, and the herpetofauna of Jersey. There were results from a slow-worm mitigation project and great news that newts subject to development and mitigation near Glasgow have apparently increased in number substantially. Away from the UK, the Zoological Society of London gave a fascinating talk on efforts to save the endangered Chinese giant salamander.

Alongside all the serious business, delegates need to let their hair down, so the whole event kicked off with a curry on the Friday night, and Saturday night saw a very entertaining gala dinner, quiz and raffle!

Our thanks go to all the organisers and helpers, ARG UK panel, speakers and workshop leaders, staff at the Jury’s Inn Oxford, and all of our generous sponsors: Caledonian Conservation (Gold Sponsor), NHBS, CGO Ecology, Habitat Aid, Surrey ARG, and the British Herpetological Society. Watch out for news of the 2017 meeting, and don’t be put off if you’re just beginning: we aim to make the meeting inclusive and we welcome new-comers!

Thank you to our 2016 sponsors: