9 March 2012

Europe Update: Billions of Animals at Risk

Following the conference hosted by Froglife in Peterborough this week, the newly formed European Network for Toads on Roads has issued a statement about the situation facing amphibians due to roads.

Fire salamanders Salamandra salamandra are just one of the species affected by roads
Recognisising the serious threats posed, the statement calls for positive action soon to solve problems and stop potential conflicts before they occur. 

The full statement reads:

“Roads present one of the biggest threats to amphibian survival across Europe.

Habitat fragmentation by existing and developing road networks leads to mass amphibian mortalities, leading in turn to local population extinctions.

Combined with other factors such as disease, habitat loss and climate change, we will lose billions of frogs, toads, newts and salamanders unless coordinated action is taken soon.

Spadefoot toads Pelobates fuscus are another of the species threatened by roads
We need:
• to recruit and support the thousands of volunteers across Europe who are committed to helping amphibians survive
• road construction across Europe to follow cost effective, best practice for amphibian mitigation to avoid simple mistakes
• improved construction on existing road networks to solve issues for amphibians
• more data on the situation in each country to map existing and potential amphibian and road conflicts
• identify hot spots for amphibian mortalities to better implement conservation measures
• shared resources in different languages to disseminate information and educate stake holders
• investment in amphibian conservation to protect these fascinating, precious and protected animals.

With these actions, we can successfully protect a part of Europe’s threatened natural heritage for future generations to enjoy. Biodiversity loss affects everyone, action to prevent it should involve everyone, and everyone will benefit from the positive outcomes.”

The informal network of conservation organisations will be coordinating positive action across Europe to help protect amphibians and other animals, so watch this space for more news.

Some of the delegates at the workshop in Peterborough this week
A big thank you to everyone who attended, contributed and helped to organise the workshop, including sponsors ACO Technologies plc.

Photos: Silviu Petrovan and Lucy Benyon

6 March 2012

Become a Newt in Peterborough this Saturday!

Froglife will be at Ferry Meadows in Peterborough this Saturday (10th of March) to celebrate National Science and Engineering Week. Conservation Youth Worker Rebecca Neal reminds of of the plans for the event... 

“The mind-blowing interactive exhibition is called The Dragons Den: A Year in the Life of a Newt.  In this total emersion experience you will don your very own newt tail and journey through “newt world” in character and learn about these strange animals as you go.
Learn more about the wonderful world of newts, like this Great Crested male
You’ll race across the hunting ground to avoid being eaten by a giant snake, you’ll search out some tasty invertebrates to eat and hide out under some giant leaves. The best bit though, and the part which I am most looking forward to, is the section where you’ll pretend to be a boy newt and dance to attract a lady friend. How often if a lifetime does an opportunity like that come along?

I would suggest bringing some small people with you as well, just as an excuse. They will probably enjoy it too.”

If you are interested in coming along, you will find the Froglife team:

• At The Discovery Den near the Visitors Centre at Ferry Meadows in Peterborough between 11am and 4pm on Saturday 10th March

We are also taking the show on the road to North Lanarkshire in Scotland on Saturday 17th March at Palacerigg Country Park - we'll remind you about it next week!

Photo: Courtesy of Dave Kilbey

Euro Vision for Amphibians on Roads

Here in the UK, wildlife charity Froglife, volunteers and local groups have been working for many years to help prevent roads annihilating local populations of Common toads through the Toads on Roads project. On the bigger scale, this week Froglife is coordinating the first meeting of organisations and groups representing twelve European countries to develop a joint approach to the issue of amphibians and roads.

The first European workshop about amphibians on roads is hosted by Froglife this week
On the 7th and 8th of March 2012, scientists and representatives from the world of amphibian conservation in France, Spain, Hungary, Portugal, Lithuania, Denmark, Netherlands, Romania, Germany, Poland, Switzerland and the UK will be meeting at the Town Hall in Peterborough. Brought together by Froglife, the workshop will be the start of problem solving discussions with the aim of developing a vision for conservation projects to tackle the issue of amphibians and roads.

“This is a very important development for achieving better coordination, information exchange and lobbying for a more sustainable future for amphibians living close to roads. Hundreds of thousands of these animals are killed every year on our roads leading to declines and destructions of populations,” explains Dr Silviu Petrovan, Froglife’s Conservation Coordinator. “There is some really interesting work being done in terms of research and conservation efforts in individual countries, so we will all benefit by getting together and starting a plan for more collaboration.”
In the UK, Common toads are often cut off from their breeding ponds by roads
In the UK, it’s generally Common toads (Bufo bufo) that are most affected by roads; being incredibly faithful to their hereditary breeding ponds and travelling en masse in spring - roads separating toads from their hibernation habitats can cause severe problems.

“With road infrastructure constantly being developed in Europe, especially in the newer members of the EU, the issue is a pressing one,” adds Dr Petrovan. “There is a need to identify the most effective mitigation techniques to prevent further extinctions in areas where new roads are planned, as well as taking a coordinated approach to monitoring existing measures such as amphibian tunnels, green bridges and volunteer patrols.”

The EU Toads on Roads conference is the first step in developing a coordinated approach to disseminate best practice information, undertake research and take steps to prevent further amphibian declines in Europe. The conference is sponsored by ACO Ltd, manufacturers of water management systems for roads, as well as amphibian tunnels and fencing.

5 March 2012

What YOU Can Do for Wildlife: Part 3

Froglife is sharing a list of our 12 favourite things you can do to help amphibians and reptiles in 2012. There is a huge range of ways people can get involved in wildlife conservation, and they don’t all involve getting wet and muddy! Here is our third tip.

Idea Number 3. Online Action
There are all sorts of things you can do from your desktop to help wildilfe!
There are a number of petitions that come up at various times that aim to help influence decisions affecting wildlife. Petition site 38 Degrees is a handy place to look.  At the moment a number of wildlife organisations have ongoing petitions, including:
Save the BBC Wildlife Fund
Campaigns from the Woodland Trust
A petition for greater protection in the planning system from the RSPB
Global petitions and calls to action from the US based Save the Frogs

The Power of Social Networks
Froglife has a page on both Facebook and Twitter, and numbers of supporters are growing as we engage more people in our cause. You can find Froglife on Facebook here and on Twitter here.
Froglife trustee Inez Smith has been getting to grips with sharing frog-friendly thoughts through social media. “I signed up to Twitter recently,” says Inez. “I don’t have many followers but I follow quite a few people so have been sending them odd little tweets with Froglife mentioned. This has lead to some re-tweets, which means their followers then see the information. I guess it’s about using our own networks to spread the conservation message.”
Every positive word about amphibians and reptiles can help to tackle misperceptions and raise awareness, and it’s also a great way to share information about campaigns, petitions and calls to action.
Social media can also link into citizen science projects as a way of recording animal sightings, as mentioned here.

Free money!
There’s nothing better than stuff for nothing and this month, Froglife will be in line for some no-cost dosh from the ethical pet insurance company Animal Friends. But we need your help.
Every month, Animal Friends runs a “charity of the month” competition on its Facebook page Feel Good Park. Members of the public can then chose the charity they think most deserving and vote for it. The charity with the most votes gets a donation of £5,000, whilst the charity that comes second will receive £2,000. Even third and fourth place get £1,500. Froglife have been offered the chance to be a featured charity and as long as we get at least 100 votes we will be guaranteed some money.
All you have to do is visit their Facebook page, click on “vote for a charity” down the left hand side and follow the instructions. Easy!  You can find their Facebook page here.

Shop and Raise Funds

You can also help raise funds for Froglife through shopping! By signing up for Give as You Live and downloading their handy app, you stores you shop with online will make donations to us. If we can sign up 25 shoppers before the end of March, Give as You Live will also donate an extra £5 per shopper! You can find out more and sign up here.

How did you get on with this action? We’d love to know any feedback, and to share your tips and ideas with others including any really important petitions or online actions that you’ve come across. Please email or comment on our Facebook page