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Danbury Common

Printed From: Reptiles and Amphibians of the UK
Category: Conservation
Forum Name: Habitat Loss
Forum Description: Use this forum to highlight harmful development projects and other issues involving habitat destruction
Printed Date: 28 Sep 2020 at 12:03am
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 11.06 -

Topic: Danbury Common
Posted By: Tim
Subject: Danbury Common
Date Posted: 06 Mar 2017 at 3:24pm
Does anyone know how adders are doing in this area. Been trying to spot them for three years and have only seen them near the carpark at the top of the common. Did see a couple last Spring well inside the gorse area on the opposite side to the grass common land where the carpark is. Reckoned there could be a hibernaculum there. But this was all cleared several weeks later. I was most concerned about this destruction. Visited the site today and saw one adder where gorse has regrown but the surrounding areas are still being cut back. I spoke to one of the rangers who said they didn't know about any adders in that area. He said the plan is returning the area to heathland with heather. When was this last so. They admitted not knowing where these creatures are and therefoe cannot make plans. I assume for land management purposes they dont need to do surveys. I thought the adder was a protected species?
I also took a look at the Backwarden, what the hell has gone on there? Part of it is a wasteland.
Any comments please.....4black

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 06 Mar 2017 at 4:42pm
This population has been in serious decline for the past decade. I extensively surveyed Danbury Common and Backwarden before 'heathland restoration' works were undertaken and submitted a report.

I warned that the works were likely to seriously damage the adder population.

I was ignored and ridiculed. I was also told that because the management team at Backwarden cannot understand a 10 figure grid reference, they did not know where the animals were. I had located all major and many satellite hibernacula and provided a map to the management teams giving the locations that should be protected.

Sadly today I can confirm I was correct in the prediction. I wish I had not been. 

Do not for one second believe that nobody tried to stop it or they 'did not know where the animals were'. They knew, they ignored it because they had funding to do the works and did so regardless.

I will add the entire 'heathland restoration' scheme has been a complete failure. As you say all that grows in the cleared areas is gorse and not heather. Unfortunately the adders will not return so easily as the gorse.

Posted By: Suzi
Date Posted: 06 Mar 2017 at 5:05pm
How many times have we heard sad stories like this on the forum? You do wonder if large grants for management work are a thing to applaud. 


Posted By: Tim
Date Posted: 06 Mar 2017 at 5:11pm
If these are a protected species isn't it an offence to harm them? Prosecution possible? Is it worth trying to estimate current population status?
Seems to be a different story at Cudmore Grove.

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 06 Mar 2017 at 5:15pm
I agree Suzi.

It is also the 'mechanism' behind the schemes. The management teams apply for funding, then Natural England give the go-ahead to the scheme. This is where things go wrong, Natural England take the stance that the management teams know what they are doing, so say, oh yes go-ahead with it. The management teams take the stance that if Natural England say it is OK, well it must be.

Both parties shun any outside interference from experts who say otherwise. They can use some very underhand tactics to undermine anyone who tries. Then add to the mix those individuals who's 'political' career in herpetofauna conservation far outweighs their ability to do the fieldwork, saying, 'Oh I think it will all be fine' when they have not even surveyed the site.

It is a gross double-standard. There have been serious offences committed under the Wildlife and Countryside Act at Danbury and Backwarden. There will be no prosecution though, NE said it was all OK...

What a state to be in. Sadly it is cases like this that make a lot of us just drop out from even trying. We should not but I can not deal with it all over and over again.

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 06 Mar 2017 at 5:16pm
Hi Tim, I think I covered your question in the post above. Cross posted.

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 06 Mar 2017 at 5:19pm
Btw Tim, I think I would struggle to get the motivation to try to establish the current population status. Based on visits in the past 5 years,  the word dire comes to mind.

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