24 Aug 2021

Today ARC is publishing a technical report into methods for better understanding the status of our widespread reptiles. These four species – slow-worm, common lizard, grass snake and adder – have a broad range in England yet have suffered from local or regional declines. Impacts arising through development are common, and yet current mechanisms for addressing such threats often appear to fail or meet with limited effectiveness. The patchy understanding of distribution and conservation status across the country is one of the key issues that hinders conservation action for these species.

Discussions between ARC and Natural England resulted in a project to better understand the steps needed to generate a baseline dataset that describes fine-scale distribution and regional conservation status. Through an examination of past work including ARC projects, literature review and consultation with researchers, we undertook an options appraisal and costed the highest ranked options. We outlined the most promising approach to key stakeholders and sought their views.

We concluded that the most effective approach would be a two-stage modelling method, combining Species Distribution Modelling and new field surveys. We outline methods and calculate costs for implementation, and note some important considerations for increasing the likelihood of stakeholder acceptance. Paramount among these is ensuring that the final output is useful in both a development and a conservation context. ARC would like to thank Natural England for funding towards this project, and all those who helped in the consultations.

The report is available at ARC’s “Technical reports” page and the full reference is:

The full citation is: Russell, L. & Foster, J. (2021). Establishing a baseline dataset for widespread reptiles in England to inform better management of development impacts. ARC report to Natural England. Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust, Bournemouth.

Banner image: Slow-worm by Ray Hamilton