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STOBOROUGH HYDE HEATH obliteration

Printed From: Reptiles and Amphibians of the UK
Category: Conservation
Forum Name: Method & Management
Forum Description: Discuss habitat management, survey methods etc.
URL: http://www.herpetofauna.co.uk/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=2999
Printed Date: 30 Nov 2020 at 2:58pm
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Topic: STOBOROUGH HYDE HEATH obliteration
Posted By: AGILIS
Subject: STOBOROUGH HYDE HEATH obliteration
Date Posted: 19 Jun 2009 at 6:10pm


Last week ending May ..well heres a few shots of over management by the RSPB on Hyde heath between Furzebrook road and the A351 at Stoborough that has destroyed habitat of all species of our herps I have seen adders sand lizard lv nats etc on this Clearance area couldnt manage by hand had the f**king bulldozers in might just as well set fire to the place!! And is a larger area and worse then the photos depict well done RSPB cant have done the birds any favours.what do you think

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   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID



Replies:
Posted By: Iowarth
Date Posted: 20 Jun 2009 at 11:15pm
Hi Keith
Sorry I have been so slow to respond. All of my limited spare time has been spent amending even more of the code on the site to try and make everything work right on the new server.
Back to your piccies though, I must say that does seem more than a little heavy handed. I am quite astonished. Quite apart from the fact that I would have thought ground nesting birds would have been in the middle of that. Ah well, looks like the nesting birds and a goodly number of strictly protected endangered herps are now part of the mud!
Seems to me there is a world of difference between management and destruction. It is hard to imagine that the RSPB would do such a thing - probably their mistake was to leave it to contractors.
Chris


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Chris Davis, Site Administrator

Co-ordinator, Sand Lizard Captive Breeding Programme (RETIRED)


Posted By: AGILIS
Date Posted: 21 Jun 2009 at 6:34am
hi Chris yep heavy handed sums it up in more polite terms, I was stunned when I see it as I only get a few weekends in the south these days and have visited this area over many years from boy to old boy , and found it very depressing to think that this wide spread destruction is happening everywhere all the time these days. I see no probs thinning out gorse and over grown brambles that can swamp areas, The so called Rspb management must know that this is also habitat for herps animals and birds alike, what ever happened to man power armed with billhooks I am sure that there are still volunteers around with some form of conservation skills?..



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   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID


Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 21 Jun 2009 at 9:04pm

It's down to cost Keith, same thing all over. Same sort of treatment of Danbury Common and Backwarden. Yes it needed management, but not like this.

What we loose is the soil structure too, it took years to form and is the reason we find herps on heaths and not in arable fields. Now some of these heaths have less value than an arable field.

But it is cheaper to get the job done by sending a contractor to bulldoze the site.

 

I've said it before and I will say it again, IF A DEVELOPER DID THIS THEY WOULD BE IN COURT - so why are the 'wildlife conservation organisations' getting away with it?

Longterm gains... no I know enough sites now that have had this sort of treatment in the past ten years where the animals are simply EXTINCT. Gone for good. The 'management' funding stream has dried up and it is reverting to gorse scrub. Conservation gain 0, negative effective 100%

Keep posting up the pictures Keith, one day they may even listen.



Posted By: Suzi
Date Posted: 21 Jun 2009 at 9:09pm

Keith,

You do realise that the photos you took show how naturally grazing cattle keep the heaths as they were in days of yore? They do this in Devon too. I am very impressed with how they push all the bits they can't chew into tidy piles like you have photographed



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Suz


Posted By: Iowarth
Date Posted: 21 Jun 2009 at 9:47pm
Damn clever these cows!

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Chris Davis, Site Administrator

Co-ordinator, Sand Lizard Captive Breeding Programme (RETIRED)


Posted By: wellies101
Date Posted: 21 Jun 2009 at 10:38pm
Have they explained (on-site) what work was done and why?


Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 21 Jun 2009 at 11:43pm

Originally posted by wellies101 wellies101 wrote:

Have they explained (on-site) what work was done and why?

Are you being serious?

The work that was done was a bulldozer was used to clear annoying gorse (the same gorse that produces fantastic underground root systems used by native herptiles and provides essential cover)

 

The reason, because they got given some money to do it.

 

And before you come back on me Wellies... show me the pre-works survey report, you know the one written by a professional reptile specialist who surveyed the site (at the correct times of year and with sufficient effort) before they sent the diggers in.........

Welcome to the real world of conservation in action. I really should dig out some of my photos. The one of the Fire brigade doing their best to save a piece of heathland that was set light to by 'conservation volunteers' as I stood and watched after I repeatly stated over several years on this forum that Essex Wildlife trust should not light fires each spring during the spring adder emergence right next to the main hibernacula in an area surrounded by gorse and dry bracken comes to mind... Or perhaps the photographs of the 'professional worker' at the controls of a tractor trashing adder habitat, who stated in an email that he saw, 'lots of adders in the area' and when challenged by myself to stop trashing the area stated 'this isn't adder habitat'.

I had over 50 survey records for adder in that area. Guess what, not seen one there for three years.



Posted By: AGILIS
Date Posted: 22 Jun 2009 at 8:33am
On the other hand perhaps this has been cleared for a nature centre to inform people about the now exstinct animals that once lived on the insitu site keith

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   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID


Posted By: Peter
Date Posted: 22 Jun 2009 at 9:57am

I wish I could say that this suprises me but unfortunately it doesn`t.

 

Conservation in action indeed.

Superb timing on the contractor`s behalf, affecting the widest diversity of wildlife possible.



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BLF Dragonscapes Habitats officer
Amphibian and Reptile Conservation
e: peter.hill@arc-trust.org


Posted By: AndyS
Date Posted: 22 Jun 2009 at 5:49pm

Hi Keith

I always think when something like this happens, it needs to get into the Local papers at least, stating the legal infringements and as you have photos and knowledge maybe let the paper know what they ( heathland terrorists) have done wrong? in the name of conservation, raise a bit of a stink about it

As the old saying goes, if it aint broken, don't fix it!!



Posted By: will
Date Posted: 22 Jun 2009 at 6:44pm
Outrageous works; put it alongside the 'controlled' arson at Arne (see my post from last August in 'method and management'.  With 'friends' like this, what lizard / snake needs enemies ?  If it's down to the RSPB, why can't they employ an in-house herpetologist ? - they have such a big responsibility outside the world of birds (and make good publicity from being custodians of biodiversity in general, too.)


Posted By: AGILIS
Date Posted: 22 Jun 2009 at 7:40pm
hi Tony I am not familiar with the knoll but have more then likley walked on its vicinity keith

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   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID


Posted By: wellies101
Date Posted: 23 Jun 2009 at 10:32am
Originally posted by GemmaJF GemmaJF wrote:

Are you being serious?

The work that was done was a bulldozer was used to clear annoying gorse (the same gorse that produces fantastic underground root systems used by native herptiles and provides essential cover)

The reason, because they got given some money to do it.

And before you come back on me Wellies... show me the pre-works survey report, you know the one written by a professional reptile specialist who surveyed the site (at the correct times of year and with sufficient effort) before they sent the diggers in.........

Welcome to the real world of conservation in action. I really should dig out some of my photos. The one of the Fire brigade doing their best to save a piece of heathland that was set light to by 'conservation volunteers' as I stood and watched after I repeatly stated over several years on this forum that Essex Wildlife trust should not light fires each spring during the spring adder emergence right next to the main hibernacula in an area surrounded by gorse and dry bracken comes to mind... Or perhaps the photographs of the 'professional worker' at the controls of a tractor trashing adder habitat, who stated in an email that he saw, 'lots of adders in the area' and when challenged by myself to stop trashing the area stated 'this isn't adder habitat'.

I had over 50 survey records for adder in that area. Guess what, not seen one there for three years.



Gemma, I only asked to try and get a clearer picture as I'm not familiar with the site, thats all. I apologise for trying to get details to take a more informed viewpoint.

I can see the work was done by plant machinery.

If the work was done to remove Gorse, I believe they should have done the area shown by hand, being more selective and less damaging to the habitat. However, I would still like to know why they chose the plant machinery route. Don't shout at me, I'm saying that choice looks very wrong in this case, but all I have seen is photos from one side of the argument.


Posted By: AGILIS
Date Posted: 23 Jun 2009 at 11:03am
hi all again this is the sort of thing thats happening all over and work carried out by so called text book conservationists, also I must mention the Hankley common golf club again, that has destroyed acres of sand lizard /adder lv sloworm ca habitat this last few years by extending their links into the heathland with impunity from the MOD or the pathetic English nature no one raises a eybrow to it , what you expect probably the local MP and local councillers are members of the club on ""expenses"". These are endangered and protected species , except when some one wants around of golf ,,but I bet if you took one from the common for its safety and got caught you would be taken away cuffed up to Farnham castle,awaiting deportation keithhaha

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   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID


Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 23 Jun 2009 at 4:52pm

Why the sarcasm Wellies, as you are a ranger I assume you are a paid 'conservationist' - if you cannot see from the pictures that this sort of work is inexcusable, that the timing is wrong and that the work is in simple terms 'illegal' under the WCA due to the known presence of protected species then all it does is confirm what I have suspected for a long time regarding people like yourself.

'if the work was done to remove Gorse' ... why do you think it was done, landing pad for UFOs?

Please do get off my case, I know now who you are. Try getting up to speed on this issue instead of protecting those involved and looking for justifications (I also know you lied when you told me you had no connection with SWT on the other thread, their loyalty isn't as strong as yours lol), this isn't one case it is one of hundreds, this stuff  happens every day of the week and plenty of us here want to see the issue aired in public.

Actually personally, I want to see the perpetrators prosecuted under the WCA. Perhaps it is time to start contacting the contractors and letting them know the position these 'conservation organisations' are putting them in.

You got a copy of the pre-works survey report yet then?



Posted By: Vicar
Date Posted: 23 Jun 2009 at 8:39pm
Just declaring an interest here, and to attempt to inject some objectivity.

Wellies101 is currently undertaking a SARG reptile training programme, which he has paid to do out of his own pocket.

As part of the programme, he has given up his free time to conduct multiple reptile surveys across five core reptile sites in Surrey, and is our fourth most active surveyor.

He first contacted me offering his site as a receptor site for herps. He has taken on board all advice provided, has established his own survey at his site, and has detected the first reptiles recorded there for almost 15 years.

If this is a profile of 'the enemy' then we can all pack up and go home. This chap cares about reptiles and is learning all he can about them.


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Steve Langham - Chairman     mailto:steve@surrey-arg.org.uk">
Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group


Posted By: Vicar
Date Posted: 23 Jun 2009 at 9:09pm
Hi Keith,

Have just checked the records for the area that I think you refer to on Purbeck. If I've got the right place, it's full of Sand lizard records that any desk study would have thrown up immediately.

I'd suggest you contact the Dorset Amphibian and Reptile Network (DARN). They can't replace the damage, but that could investigate and make a pain of themselves so it's not instantly repeated next time the contractors are out?


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Steve Langham - Chairman     mailto:steve@surrey-arg.org.uk">
Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group


Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 23 Jun 2009 at 9:46pm

He'll be a consultant then before you know it Steve  Shame the first time I noticed him was when he complained about a post on the thread that Surrey Wildlife Trust asked you to remove. As they then claimed they were not involved I wonder why they were so sensitive about Al posting the thread in the first place? I'm sure you are as keen on free speach on these boards as any body else. I then find out and not through you that he did indeed have contacts with SWT, hence why I consider that the complaint about Keith's posts suggesting they were a bunch of..... was motivated by loyalty. I just want the truth here nothing else.

You know this sort of works is wrong in areas with protected species - you know as well as I do they know the animals are there - you know as well as I do that it is brushed under the carpet because they get funding to do heathland restoration and that the pictures at the start of this thread is the usual method employed because it is the cheap way to do it. You also know as well as I do that Natural England sanction a great deal of these works which makes it impossible to involve local Police liason officers. Is that objective enough for you?

You may feel Steve that 'education' is the way forward, but sorry I've had enough of these site trashings in the name of 'conservation'.

Perhaps Wellies learnt a little there about 'the what and why' of this sort of site trashing.

 

And finally, you know as well as I do that they would rather we didn't talk about it on RAUK...



Posted By: Alan Hyde
Date Posted: 23 Jun 2009 at 10:35pm
Originally posted by GemmaJF GemmaJF wrote:

You may feel Steve that 'education' is the way forward, but sorry I've had enough of these site trashings in the name of 'conservation'.




Exactly how I feel. Education clearly is not working IMO.
Even if it was working it may be too late for many populations to recolonise.

Training to survey is also admirable, but then why train someone relatively new and reject all offers of help and advice from many that have been in the field for decades?
We all know that this sort of knowledge does not come over night, we become familiar with our sites and the animals observed there. An area that is rich in reptiles at one time in the year may be completely herpless at other times . If the surveyor is relatively new he or she may assume that that particular spot has little active life. I know many adders that can be found at completely opposite ends of the heath in different seasons.



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O-> O+>


Posted By: Vicar
Date Posted: 23 Jun 2009 at 10:44pm
Originally posted by GemmaJF GemmaJF wrote:

He'll be a consultant then before you know it Steve


Heh, I hope he does, he'll at least have had expert training , and I'm confident that he has the animals' interests at heart. What's wrong with consultants anyhow?

I can't speak for all site trashings, but when they happen in my patch I do try to determine who was responsible and identify the causes.

The usual cause is that the contractors on site do not know about the animals presence, many in Surrey are ex-council contractors with little ecological expertise. Poor communications and mis-management are the prime causes. That's no excuse, but on my patch I do not believe it's as cynical a situation as people deliberately trashing reptile sites for economic gain. ignorance of herp issues is rife.

I like the Baba Dioum quote: "For in the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught."

Education HAS to be a part of the solution. I believe that we are making progress and that the situation is improving in Surrey. As you know, my herp involvement is purely amateur, and all done in my own time...I have plenty of other interests to occupy myself if I think I'm flogging a dead horse.

I'm totally in favour of naming and shaming on this forum.

I'm also in favour of hearing both sides of every story.

I'm most in favour of trying to do something about it in a pro-active and constructive manner that doesn't entrench both 'sides' into immovable positions (as has happened in many cases).


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Steve Langham - Chairman     mailto:steve@surrey-arg.org.uk">
Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group


Posted By: Vicar
Date Posted: 23 Jun 2009 at 10:48pm
Originally posted by Alan Hyde Alan Hyde wrote:

Even if it was working it may be too late for many populations to recolonise.


I agree Al, so what do we do about it? and what does work ?

My goal is to minimise 'repeat offences'.



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Steve Langham - Chairman     mailto:steve@surrey-arg.org.uk">
Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group


Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 23 Jun 2009 at 11:12pm

Steve, I think Al has said it all.

Do you know that I'm effectively banned from surveying Essex Wildlife Trust sites? I must not leave designated paths or use ACO.

Why? Because I gave my time voluntarily to survey a site. The site has the four widespread species, not bad for Essex and GCN. I wrote a report, that was my mistake. They trashed it any way. The local Police Liason Officer did not act because Natural England said it was OK for them to do so because they 'trusted them'. They did the work because 'Natural England' said it was OK. Yet nobody other than me and the local warden was actually visiting the site to see the habitat or the aftermath it appears.

I didn't start the war here. They were offered the services of an ecological consultant for free - I did this after hearing the excuse that they couldn't afford to carryout site surveys and didn't have the expertise. You can ask anyone who knows my work that I will be onsite from morning to night for days on end until I know exactly what I'm dealing with.

Overall we have already lost most of the heathland to development. It is not at all cynical to now view the situation as a case of what little is left is being over-managed by over eager 'conservation organisations' driven not by sense but by funding. That really is how I see it and in 50 years when the biodiversity is lost people will say 'why didn't anyone stop them?'

Al really has the main point here, what is needed is a prosecution of a 'Conservation Organisation' or contractor. That way those involved will be a litte more likely to think before sending in a bulldozer to a sensitive and often irreplaceable piece of habitat and at least properly consider asking for help from those who have some clue what they are actually doing.

It doesn't wash with me they are just ignorant. They have obligations under the WCA. I would like to see ignorance used as a defence if a developer trashed as site in this way. As it is you can't so much as get a bore rig onsite under watching brief. Natural England wouldn't allow it without full mitigation. Double standards. Ignorance??? Lets see how ignorant they are when they get the plant machinery impounded and the worker sent down for six months......



Posted By: Vicar
Date Posted: 23 Jun 2009 at 11:40pm
I agree with you Gemma!

But, how likely is a prosecution against a contractor working under direction of a WT, having received NE permission when CPS and Police WLO are not interested? - not very likely in my book, but it would definitely influence behaviours. It also burns bridges, so for my strategy is a last resort (as I'm sure it was for you).

I know we're in a better position in Surrey that Essex or Kent when it come to advising the WT. This won't prevent site trashings, but I hope it means that mistakes are repeated less frequently.

Since we've started pro-active engagement with the all the land managers, we've not had any 'repeat offences'. This can't go on forever...but it's certainly not evidence that the education approach is failing. It's just one piece in the jigsaw, and I'm not sure what the other pieces look like! I think RAUK is one of the other pieces.

I also sympathise with Al's position of being a competent herpetologist, yet the 'system' doesn't recognise him as an authority.

ARGs do have a role to play here (IMO) as records from individuals can be validated and a recognised (assuming the WT will talk to you ) organisation will always carry more weight concerning 'material considerations for biodiversity'  than any individual.

If your local ARG is useless...join it and change it from within .





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Steve Langham - Chairman     mailto:steve@surrey-arg.org.uk">
Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group


Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 24 Jun 2009 at 12:16am

There are organisations that may fund a private prosecution Steve....

I always liked the term 'burning bridges' unfortunately most were already burning from the other side in Essex before I ever got to cross them...

Don't get me started on ARGs

I actually think Steve and it might come as a surprise to you, you do have the right approach. I just hope you don't get disheartened as many of us have and you don't see 'dirty tricks' such as sites getting trashed before you can survey them. Really if my moaning all the time on here shows others a different way that is fine by me.

Many of us though have lost a lot. I use to like nothing better than a day in the field just finding animals. I was so pleased when I got a reasonable camera to record my sightings.. now I don't visit sites because I'm afraid of what I'm going to see. Perhaps it is all already lost for me. It seems quite ridiculous to me that I can run a 150,000 contract for a developer without a hicup and yet be treated like a troublesome schoolgirl by EWT. (perhaps now Wellies knows why we sometimes call them w**kers). Ooops I should moderate myself, or perhaps just forget it all and go burn some Avgas...

PS Wellies, the reason I didn't moderate Keith's post is I can't actually type w**kers on here, you see it has a naughty word filter. Chris can take them out completely if he reconfigures it.



Posted By: Vicar
Date Posted: 24 Jun 2009 at 1:09am
Right...all that talk of jigsaw pieces got me thinking.

Here's a stab at an influence diagram. Gold boxes are where I think ARGs could be of use. What have I left out?




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Steve Langham - Chairman     mailto:steve@surrey-arg.org.uk">
Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group


Posted By: Iowarth
Date Posted: 24 Jun 2009 at 8:25am
Steve
Thanks for your input - arguably in this case a "moderating" one! My only negative comment about your Land Management Influence Diagram relates to your preceding sentence - not "where ARGs could be of use", but "where ARGs should be of use"!

Incidentally I believe you are also quite correct in pointing out that dissatisfaction with an ARG or similar organisation is best treated by joining it and directly influencing it.

As a general comment we should all remember that whether we are talking about HCT, RSPB, WTs, ARGs etc etc they all, irrespective of cock-ups, do have at the heart of their concerns the well being of our wildlife and its habitat. Cock-ups or not, it would all be far worse off without them.

But, yes, irrespective of who actually causes such wanton damage and inevitable death of animals they are clearly in breach of the law and should be prosecuted (even Natural England!). Years ago, when I could still walk a decent distance, during the course of a site clearance/mitigation I hand caught a juvenile Zv and injured it to the extent that I had to kill it. I was nearly in tears even though, conversely I had saved nearly 500 of them. To some, that may seem excessive - yet perhaps that is the depth of feeling which is needed in those who manage habitat for our wildlife. I know that many do share this - so it is hardly surprising that wanton destruction leads to strong words.

I watched this discussion developing, and while it showed signs that it might need moderating in due course, nevertheless, part of the purpose of this forum is to allow these views to be expressed, brought into the open and discussed. So - I left well alone!

As part of this I would absolutely love it, if those responsible for ill-conceived and mismanaged management posted on here to respond to the criticism. In fact, I invite them to do so.

Last, but not least, re Gemma's PS, subjects about which people feel strongly emotional will sometimes lead to equally emotive language. The current naughty word filter allows them to make that clear, but hopefully the filter at least makes the terms acceptable to those of us who do not approve of them.

Chris




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Chris Davis, Site Administrator

Co-ordinator, Sand Lizard Captive Breeding Programme (RETIRED)


Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 24 Jun 2009 at 9:48am

Certainly Steve one of the key factors is there, and that is willingness.

Really what I have come up against again and again is the sort of entrenched, 'well that is how we do things' attitude and "who are you to tell us differently".

Education only works if people are willing to listen and learn. Far too much goes on behind closed doors, far too many decisions are made ignoring key factors rather than based on the key factors.

The real issue here is that there is an obligation for these organisations to get their house in order and that is the WCA. However often they are 'protected' by a system which largely keeps these actions out of the public eye and allows a lot of 'buck passing'. Try to get key people together onsite to show them what is happening is practically impossible. Then when the disaster happens, 'oh it's a bit of mess we didn't know they were going to do that'. Sorry if you tell someone who drives a digger to clear a site of vegetation and scrape the site back to bare earth, then that is exactly what they are going to do.

I've seen signs go up for the public next to what looks more like a development site than a wildlife site stating the work will benefit adders. Well actually they were doing pretty well there until plant machinery was used to scrape the entire site flat to the bare earth!

The point is a single prosecution will do more for the animals than any amount of local education. I usually found that people quickly moved on in 'conservation organisations' so those educated are quickly lost and it is not a long-term solution, more a mitigation.

The situation should not be one of 'we have been educated' it should be one of 'we are obliged to seek expert advice'. Really that is the only education needed and the best way to do that is simply to prosecute under the WCA.

Lets face it, it is only that approach which makes developers employ ecological consultants, yes at times it is a will 'to do the right thing', often it is simply they can live without the bad publicity.

The notion that for some reason conservation organisations are a 'softer target' and should be treated with kid gloves is I think rather mute. After all, they are the ones who really should know better.



Posted By: Vicar
Date Posted: 24 Jun 2009 at 2:10pm
here's an interesting link:
http://www.defra.gov.uk/paw/news/pdf/NE-MoU-2008.pdf - http://www.defra.gov.uk/paw/news/pdf/NE-MoU-2008.pdf

Of course any alleged crime would only be brought to trial if it is deemed to be in the public interest. I would imagine that this is the clause which would be cited should a wildlife organisation be under investigation.

In my business, we have an independent scrutiny body who advises, and if this advice is ignored or not sought, has powers to step in and take action. Presumably this is the role of the countryside agencies (NE etc).

I agree with what you say Gemma, but I feel that any prosecution of a conservation organisation is unlikely (unless they have been unbelievably stupid and severely breached licence conditions or work was clearly in contravention of SSSI restrictions and NCA advice).

Any action brought against a national countryside agency is certainly doomed to failure (IMO).

Prosecution is not an avenue which should be ignored (It's on the influence diagram!). However, in the majority of cases, the meagre resources (time and money) of ARGs is probably better spent elsewhere. I can't see a civil action working, as it would be next to impossible to establish personal damages - but I'm no lawyer.

Maybe there's a role here for HCT/ARC or ARG-UK?


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Steve Langham - Chairman     mailto:steve@surrey-arg.org.uk">
Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group


Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 24 Jun 2009 at 5:12pm

I certainly think it is in the public interest to stop the slaughter of protected species Steve. Perhaps if we were more interested in fluffy animals it wouldn't be such a problem.

I do not think for one moment that these organisations are beyond the law or the threat of prosecution as much as they may think they are. The WCA is after all the UK interpretation of European Law.

If we were to hear of a 'conservation organisation' member steeling and selling animals for profit I'm sure everyone would be very eager to see that person prosecuted. Strange then that killing seems to be seen as something less.



Posted By: AGILIS
Date Posted: 25 Jun 2009 at 4:31pm
I think I like the name and shame part of Steves management chart the best,,And Gemma and myself have stated its a bigger crime removing animals then actualy wiping out colonies of them under heavy plant, I just wish I had collected all the la and other herps up off of parts of Hankley common but the golf club has done that by destroying the habitat on one of the few rare sites in Surrey and it will get worse unless something is done, and I dont think much will be done by those people ensconsed in well paid managerial positions in Natural England The name itself is a joke, but no doubt it will be changed soon to fit in with some form of recreational
playground encouraging more people to tramp the last heaths into obliteration

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   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID


Posted By: wellies101
Date Posted: 25 Jun 2009 at 5:59pm
Originally posted by GemmaJF GemmaJF wrote:

You may feel Steve that 'education' is the way forward, but sorry I've had enough of these site trashings in the name of 'conservation'.

Perhaps Wellies learnt a little there about 'the what and why' of this sort of site trashing.



So should we not educate and let no-one have a clue about UK herps? I'd like to see what their long term status is then? If you think things are bad now imagine how bad they could be?! As Iowarth pointed out, "As a general comment we should all remember that whether we are talking about HCT, RSPB, WTs, ARGs etc etc they all, irrespective of cock-ups, do have at the heart of their concerns the well being of our wildlife and its habitat. Cock-ups or not, it would all be far worse off without them". And I think the important part of this quote is "wildlife", reptiles are a part of a massive picture and as much of this massive picture needs to be considered as possible.

I also think Armata made a good point saying "It continues to be a mystery why the powers that be don't put their hands up and just admit; yes, we know we are killing reptiles, but its for the long term good". I'm not saying this makes the death of some animals ok, it should be the last option used, but if it is used, we shouldn't lose sight of the bigger picture. It would also take some serious guts to say it, and would still come in for a lot of flak, but IMO, is what is going on on the majority of sites throughout the UK. I think long-term the wildlife, not just reptiles, in these habitats will benefit.




Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 25 Jun 2009 at 6:29pm

Oh OK then wellies, silly me everything is alright then.  How many times do you think I've heard the 'holistic' approach nonsense in the past 20 years



Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 25 Jun 2009 at 7:24pm

OK Wellies, less face it you deserve better than that. Let's look at what you have said.

 

1) Am I against education regarding herps?

Um No or I wouldn't have created this site in the first place, it wasn't for the money you know!

2) Why did I react to your post the way I did?

Because I've heard the same argument over and over from land managers. Lets face it I may specialise in a small group of species, but that is because I don't like 'Jack's of all trades masters of none'. It doesn't work in ecology so that is the corner I argue. That doesn't indicate I do not have a wide interest in wildlife or a grasp of ecosystems and the wider picture.

3) Am I against management of land?

No, some of the best reptile sites I know are managed on a regular basis. Take a walk around Thetford Forest and you will see what I mean.

4) Do I beleive that the current approach to heathland restoration is in the longterm beneficial to a wide variety of species?

No I'm afraid I do not. Tony (armata) once coined the phrase on here 'throwing the baby out with the bath water'. This is very much how I see the plight of reptiles during these schemes.

We have lost the vast majority of heathland in the UK already to Development. We now see a landscape with reduced dispersal and colonisation routes.

If for example a WT decides the best way to manage Gorse at a local site is to call in a contractor, what might happen? Well it just may turnout if nobody surveyed the site that they dig up an adder hibernaculum in the process. So does that effect the wider picture? Well it may well mean site extinction for that species with little chance of recolonisation. In my view that is really tragic and becomes a key point. Unfortunately I've often heard the 'wider picture' argument put in a way that makes the event seem trivial. Fact is it isn't trivial for the adders is it! I find it hard to grasp the longterm benefit of site extinction also.

So what might they have done? Well they might have asked myself or many members of this site to survey first. Then perhaps we could have informed them of the situation and the hibernaculum and any other key adder habitat might have been preserved during the management.

That would be a good situation for all wouldn't it?

 

So why my attitude? Well because when I did tell my local WT the situation, they went and bulldozed it anyway. You see why I get a little annoyed at times perhaps. Now this isn't a one off thing at all and it makes it difficult for me to believe that really really thay care about anything other than the funding. There were GCN and Dormice there also. I educated and was shut out for causing trouble you see.

All I'm asking for is awareness and sympathetic management so we don't end up throwing the baby out with the bath water. This stuff isn't exactly rocket science either.

I have tried education. I've tried providing my services. All it got me was being shut out of the system.

So now I'm keen to 'educate' by other means.

 

Now on that 'wider picture argument', and I know it is just what you have been told so why wouldn't you believe it, show me the evidence of a single heathland restoration scheme carried out in the UK that benefitted a wide variety of species.

Not just anacdotal stuff like 'oh we see lots of xxx now', I mean a report that shows pre-management work survey data and then say within in 10 years the benefit the work actually had......

You get where I'm coming from.

 

See Steve might have even convinced me your worth talking to Wellies



Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 25 Jun 2009 at 7:48pm
I should add to this discussion Wellies that an awful lot of us on here have seen the very negative effects of management time and time again. It's going to be hard to convince us it will all be OK in the longterm.


Posted By: wellies101
Date Posted: 25 Jun 2009 at 8:43pm
Originally posted by GemmaJF GemmaJF wrote:

1) Am I against education regarding herps?

...No...

2) Why did I react to your post the way I did?

Because I've heard the same argument over and over from land managers. Lets face it I may specialise in a small group of species, but that is because I don't like 'Jack's of all trades masters of none'. It doesn't work in ecology so that is the corner I argue.

3) Am I against management of land?

No, some of the best reptile sites I know are managed on a regular basis.

4) Do I beleive that the current approach to heathland restoration is in the longterm beneficial to a wide variety of species?

No I'm afraid I do not. Tony (armata) once coined the phrase on here 'throwing the baby out with the bath water'. This is very much how I see the plight of reptiles during these schemes.

We have lost the vast majority of heathland in the UK already to Development. We now see a landscape with reduced dispersal and colonisation routes.

If for example a WT decides the best way to manage Gorse at a local site is to call in a contractor, what might happen? Well it just may turnout if nobody surveyed the site that they dig up an adder hibernaculum in the process. So does that effect the wider picture? Well it may well mean site extinction for that species with little chance of recolonisation. In my view that is really tragic and becomes a key point. Unfortunately I've often heard the 'wider picture' argument put in a way that makes the event seem trivial. Fact is it isn't trivial for the adders is it! I find it hard to grasp the longterm benefit of site extinction also.

So what might they have done? Well they might have asked myself or many members of this site to survey first. Then perhaps we could have informed them of the situation and the hibernaculum and any other key adder habitat might have been preserved during the management.

That would be a good situation for all wouldn't it?

All I'm asking for is awareness and sympathetic management so we don't end up throwing the baby out with the bath water. This stuff isn't exactly rocket science either.

Now on that 'wider picture argument', and I know it is just what you have been told so why wouldn't you believe it, show me the evidence of a single heathland restoration scheme carried out in the UK that benefitted a wide variety of species.

....I mean a report that shows pre-management work survey data and then say within in 10 years the benefit the work actually had......

See Steve might have even convinced me your worth talking to Wellies



Gemma

I hope your sitting down because I agree with your 4 points.

1. I'm all for education, without it I wouldn't be surveying for reptiles as actively as I am! I'm in this industry as a conservationist rather than a consultant (not that I have a probelm with consultants I'll add) so I'm looking to conserve and improve diversity on any site(s) I'm involved with.

2. I can appreciate your reaction and understand your energy with which you present your side of the argument, I honestly can. Having specialists in any industry is vital. I also believe there is a place for jack-of-all-trades within the environment industry, provided that when they need specialist advice they seek it.

3. Again I agree. Without management a lot of our habitats would have undergone massive succession and we'd have lost countless species.

4. This is the only point where we somewhat disagree. However, I do agree there are examples out there where management is having a negative impact on site biodiversity. In the same breath though, there are some good examples of heathland restoration out there, and I believe more will surface given time.

Now maybe my view on this last point is because I'm inexperienced and have little to compare to, but it is (from what I have seen in my short career) what I believe.

Finally, I'm glad Steve (many thanks Steve) has convinced you I'm worth talking to. I hope given time I can prove this further.

Wellies



Posted By: wellies101
Date Posted: 25 Jun 2009 at 9:21pm
My guess would be scrub on the left and towards the back?


Posted By: wellies101
Date Posted: 25 Jun 2009 at 9:49pm
Armata

Funny you should mention pine felling to restore heathland as most of my exposure to heathland restoration has been as a result of pine felling and, in terms of heathland restoration, is fantastic!

Glad I got it right, phew!!

James


Posted By: wellies101
Date Posted: 25 Jun 2009 at 10:02pm
Originally posted by armata armata wrote:

Thats good!

The main difference is that although successful post felling awaits colonisation, which is different to managing heathland with a long history of reptile occupation.


I agree Armata. Successful management of the two stages of heathland habitat require different things.


Posted By: Vicar
Date Posted: 25 Jun 2009 at 10:25pm
Just thought I'd add a ray of optimism.

The HCT Wealdon field team, IMO do an absolutely superb job. Considering how few there are of them, and the huge areas they actively manage (although only portions of sites), what they achieve is highly impressive.

I have data which indicate quantitative success (with caveats, coz it's a complicated thing to measure).

They achieve this through careful consultation with land owners and agents, and even take on board other species' interests to find a way that suits more than just the herps.

Hats off to Mike Preston and team!


-------------
Steve Langham - Chairman     mailto:steve@surrey-arg.org.uk">
Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group


Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 25 Jun 2009 at 10:41pm

Well at least we don't really disagree on much then Wellies. I totally agree that felling Pine is effective.

Trouble is that isn't the sort of work we see at the begining of this thread and turning what is now good habitat to bare earth is what makes my blood boil. I've lost count of how often I have seen it on sites that could have benefitted from some tree felling or other management or at least some compensation by the creation of new habitat (log/brash piles) for many species to colonise. Yet instead the scrub is bashed to death to leave what looks more like a car park than anything else. It's no shock to me that at such sites I see declining numbers of animals.

 



Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 25 Jun 2009 at 10:57pm

Steve a ray of hope indeed, but the core point could be 'it isn't actually that hard to do' in practical terms it is just getting those involved to actually listen and accept the advice.

From my perspective if a developer can do it, and trust me with help they can, we shouldn't really be so excited that we can. Didn't we all know we could, if people would listen to us.

PS Wellies, Consultants really are bunch of...  I've know enough of them



Posted By: AGILIS
Date Posted: 26 Jun 2009 at 6:22am
Most enlightened heath lovers absoluty agree with the felling of pine trees that blanketed out heaths and killed off the heather and every thing else under them, but what method will be used to remove the trees ? unless the management has a fleet of Suffolk punches! I think not more likley the bulldozers will be bought in again but then the trees have done the damage as theres no animals left to kill

-------------
   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID


Posted By: Alan Hyde
Date Posted: 28 Jun 2009 at 8:54am
Originally posted by Vicar Vicar wrote:

I also sympathise with Al's position of being a competent herpetologist, yet the 'system' doesn't recognise him as an authority..


Ah Just seen this , no worries whatsoever Steve . The System Knowingly murders reptiles , I do not. The System has some very good knowledgable people, and many many jumped up novices pumped up on their own self importance , "Got the paperwork, been in the field twice, i'm the bees knees me"

I'll always remain true to myself and care about our native wildlife and what is happening out there.
That's what's important.



-------------
O-> O+>


Posted By: AGILIS
Date Posted: 07 Aug 2009 at 10:08am
Hi Chris has there been any form of response from the rspb into the Hyde heath habitat destruction keithd

-------------
   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID


Posted By: calumma
Date Posted: 07 Aug 2009 at 2:18pm
Originally posted by Vicar Vicar wrote:

Right...all that talk of jigsaw pieces got me thinking.Here's a
stab at an influence diagram.


Steve, have you yet had any feedback on your influence diagram and is this
something that has been adopted by Surrey ARG?

-------------
Lee Brady

Kent Herpetofauna Recorder | Independent Ecological Consultant



mailto:recorder@calummaecologicalservices.co.uk - Email


Posted By: Vicar
Date Posted: 07 Aug 2009 at 2:35pm
To be honest...it's rare that anybody understands my influence diagrams 

But yes, SARG are doing all of the ARG-indicated boxes, with the exception of the 'praise' element. Hopefully the imminent Ash management will provide an opportunity.

We're most successful at providing distribution awareness to the land-manager stakeholders, which gets very complicated in Surrey! (owner, lease-holder, management agreement, specialist rare herp management areas, grazing managers etc all on the same site)

I've just rolled out the online distribution mapping to MoD, covering their Surrey ranges and training areas. They asked me for it!

The Waverley BC, SWT and ARC mapping is done and running, next are the NT sites (partially complete).


-------------
Steve Langham - Chairman     mailto:steve@surrey-arg.org.uk">
Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group


Posted By: calumma
Date Posted: 07 Aug 2009 at 3:14pm
That's good to hear Steve. KRAG have recently had some success with the
county wildlife trust and have been approached to write a letter of support
for a grant applications and to discuss management strategies on several
sites. The letter of support we have written could be considered an attempt
at preemptive praise on your influence diagram!

To be fair, some of the management dialogue was promoted by KRAG
commenting about what we considered to be 'over enthusiastic'
management of a key reptile site.

-------------
Lee Brady

Kent Herpetofauna Recorder | Independent Ecological Consultant



mailto:recorder@calummaecologicalservices.co.uk - Email


Posted By: AGILIS
Date Posted: 08 Nov 2013 at 10:47am
Looking over every ones response to my original tag exposing the rspbs role in Hyde heaths bashing by bulldozers.perhaps the people responsible are more concerned in getting grants for managing heaths this way as it secures their jobs and pay, if they can submit huge bills by using the contractors then some one in the governments grants quango can see that the money is being well spent(should say wasted) and will carry on with payments as long as they keep submitting these bills ,its bit like councils that have to spend out before the financial year on spurious road works to get more cash from the ratepayers cornucopia horn of plenty. Also they have more chance getting a three hundred grand grant if they can submit some firm that some council official is a director ,Its easier then asking for wages for half a dozen people at around £400 a week each for doing about three months work costing about 28000k or give some Romanians work who will do it cheaper lol .keith

-------------
   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 08 Nov 2013 at 4:10pm
Sadly Keith (yes I'm still here too lol) what you are saying is in very many cases correct.

Grants and funding have been made available in the past (particularly for the dreaded 'heathland restoration'. Some conservation organisations have applied for this money, then felt obliged to carry out works or simply come up with 'conservation schemes' so they can get hold of the money in the first place. 

Often there has been little or no regard for resident wildlife. If that sounds too critical or fanciful, why it is beyond them to carryout simple pre-works surveys for protected species such as reptiles I wonder.. Also why do they hate outside help so much? I remain as cynical as ever.

This is why often when people who know a local site try to get involve the information provided is totally ignored. The funding is already in place the work is going ahead whatever anyone tries to point out to them regarding existing animals. 

I wonder if the down turn in the economy is actually doing our wildlife a favour, less money around for so called conservation schemes that actually destroy existing wildlife and soil structure.


Posted By: Suzy
Date Posted: 08 Nov 2013 at 11:04pm
I've realised over the years that although the RSPB say they manage sites for all flora and fauna, that isn't really so where I live. Their management is heavily skewed towards birds, hence all the scraping and flattening.
We all have tales of lost little patches (or not so little) where every year we might reliably expect to see something, be it a plant, butterfly, insect or, yes, even a bird. Now no more due to heavy handed obliteration of habitat.
All very sad.


-------------
Suz


Posted By: AGILIS
Date Posted: 09 Nov 2013 at 5:44am

Some silly names that RSPB really stands for any more ideas .

Royal society prefers birds
Reptile site place bulldozed
Rather scrape places barren
Real stupid prats biased
THIS WAS THE BULLDOZING ON HYDE HEATH A FEW YEARS BACK
FOR those newer members,just what RSPB managements about. no dout its covered in foliage by now ,but the animal wont have recovered.
keith[IMG]


-------------
   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 09 Nov 2013 at 2:02pm
In very many cases they will argue the work is necessary and will benefit in the long-term.

My own monitoring of local sites that have undergone this kind of 'management' using plant machinery shows otherwise. Often there is an initial increase in sightings (as might be expected as surviving animals are pushed into smaller areas of habitat) followed by declines in overall numbers.

As the areas recover (if they are allowed to depending on if they are mowed/grazed etc.) the animals do not return. The vegetation might look promising but as can be seen clearly from Keith's first picture the surface soil structure is destroyed. This is extremely imported for a whole range of smaller animals and would take decades to recover, if it ever did.



Posted By: Robert V
Date Posted: 28 Nov 2013 at 12:39pm
I saw this today...
 
 
http://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/442604/Developers-could-be-given-carte-blanche-to-build-on-wildlife-sites" rel="nofollow - http://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/442604/Developers-could-be-given-carte-blanche-to-build-on-wildlife-sites
 
It shows the ignorance at Government levels regarding soil structure, length of time to create sites etc etc. I would like to know how the populations of those translocations from Thames Gateway to Wiltshire have held up. I bet there's massive losses.
 
R


-------------
RobV



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