Amphibian and Reptile Conservation are delighted to announce that our ‘Snakes in the Heather’ project has been awarded National Lottery funding.  A grant of nearly £500,000 will allow the project to bring together key partners including Amphibian and Reptile Groups, NGOs and local Wildlife Trusts, to conserve the rare and secretive smooth snake.

The smooth snake is Britain's rarest reptile, now only found naturally on the lowland heathlands of Dorset, Hampshire and Surrey. It is a very secretive creature, choosing to bask within heather vegetation and burrowing out of sight if disturbed. For this reason, its ecology, behaviour and distribution have been difficult to study in the past, and little is known about it.

Tony Gent, CEO of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, commented, “We are delighted to have secured National Lottery funding for this important project, which will enable us to help save the UK’s rarest native snake, now found at only a few locations in southern England, by restoring and connecting its dwindling habitats and engaging more people in its conservation”.

We are also delighted to count on the support of New Forest West MP, Sir Desmond Swayne. Speaking in 2016, when he took on the mantle of National Species Champion for the smooth snake, Sir Desmond said “With the New Forest being one of the key areas for the smooth snake, it is great to see a project that uses good old fashioned natural history coming together with state of the art science. This will help the conservation of this rare species that I am proud to champion, but also in a way that will help us conserve many other species too.”

The £467,100 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant will enable ARC to train volunteers to monitor and conserve smooth snakes by improving their habitat across Southern England. This information will be used to develop a targeted habitat management strategy, by identifying the key target sites that will most benefit from practical habitat management, and will be most effective in linking smooth snake heathland habitats.

The Development Phase will run from Summer 2017, and will focus on developing these important partnerships, and planning an exciting range of events and volunteer opportunities for the next stage of the bid to HLF. If successful, the project will then run for a further four years.

For more information on Snakes in the Heather, contact:

John Wilkinson, Science Programme Manager

t: 07810 770560
e: john.wilkinson@arc-trust.org