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GemmaJF View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jun 2012 at 1:01pm
Ian has sent me the PDF with the photographs.

In line with what you have said Kieth from the first photograph there appears to have been extensive removal of ground level habitats as it certainly appears to show only recent regrowth. Though it does not appear plant machinery was used certainly one gets the impression of heavy handed management at the site in the recent past.

No doubt the removal of birch will in the long-term be beneficial to reptiles. Really to be quite frank the rest of Andy's response has little or no relevance to the subject under discussion.

As I am sure most would agree here, if reptile surveys are not carried out prior to works it is impossible to identify existing key features such as hibernacula, favoured basking sites and grass snake egg laying sites for example. 

The importance of insuring that such features remained undisturbed during works cannot be overstressed. Nor can the need to leave in place ground level habitats and three dimensional habitat features.

I would like to make it quite clear why I would like to see a prosecution under the WCA. (and I do not mean over this particular event - I mean as a general wake-up call to all site managers)

1) There is a reluctance by many organisations to seek expert advice regarding the needs of herpetofauna at key sites before management works are undertaken.

2) There appears to be little emphasis placed by NE that due regard should be given to herpetofauna during these management works. (or in many cases an assumption that the organisation involved will have taken this into account because their obligations under the WCA are quite clear).

In all none of it is rocket science. 

However it does take an ecologist experienced in the field rather than a generalist ecologist to undertake pre-works surveys and interpret the results.

Whilst there is a reluctance by certain organisation to seek the help of such expert ecologists to prevent the destruction of existing reptile habitats my stance remains the same.

None of us want bad feelings, none of us want to see a prosecution out of any form of vindictiveness towards individuals or organisations. 

All we want to see is that an appropriate level of consideration is given to what are after all legally protected animals.

What one sees again and again is the complete removal of habitats many of us have known for years. Absolutely nobody with any experience of reptile ecology would think this was 'a good idea' or that it could be in any way beneficial to herp species in my opinion.


I will add that I would like to visit the site. Might be good if several of us can meet up there at some point and take a look round?



Edited by GemmaJF - 30 Jun 2012 at 6:22pm
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GemmaJF View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 2012 at 12:24pm
I think it would also be useful for forum members to take a second look at Andy's response.

His first tactic is to undermine Rob by stating that his first posting presents an inaccurate picture.

Why on earth would Rob want to wind himself up over yet another event at EF unless he had genuine reason for concern? Or attempt to mislead the members of this forum? He is a highly experienced field herpetologist. If he thinks that the works damaged reptile habitat then I am 100% inclined to take his word for it. This is exactly the sort of tactic one can expect if raising these issues, instead of listening to Rob's concerns Andy attempts to undermine him.

As for the rest of Andy's response, who else is reading through the lines? It is a case of not what is stated in the response, it is a case of what it  does not state. Hardly any mention of reptiles at all and no mention of the SSSI status at the site.

I've come to term this as 'squirming' or 'smoke and mirrors' down the years. For many people the wool will be firmly pulled, it 'sounds' like many good things are happening. It at no point however addresses the issue at hand, what provisions were put in place to safeguard herpetofauna at the site during the works and insure their conservation status was not lowered?

Reading Andy's response for the second time, one would have to assume none at all.

No doubt his next tactic will be to undermine me by saying I'm insulting (again). Save your breath Andy, I know already and I don't give a damn... ... I'm only involved in all this because the animals can't speak for themselves and it isn't me that goes around wrecking their habitat...




Edited by GemmaJF - 01 Jul 2012 at 1:14pm
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AGILIS View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AGILIS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 2012 at 4:08pm
I thought at first it was pretty much a genuine response as to clearing of the birch but have had another look at the reply and can see why Gemma is angry about it, and of course I am all supportive of Robs dismay as to the clearing of Rushey plain as I was introduces to herps years ago there ,and used to know all the spots such as the one mentioned and sunshine plain with its last bits of remaining heather and I also find it insulting to people like Rob and dare I say it even my self who have years of intimate knowledge of the Epping forest reptile habitat and I think most people on this site should know by now my views on habitat demise.keith

Edited by AGILIS - 01 Jul 2012 at 4:14pm
   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID
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GemmaJF View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 2012 at 4:30pm
I'm not angry Keith, I'm persistent. Wink

I would like Andy to provide

1) The results of the pre-works reptile surveys

2) A concise (couple of paragraphs) explanation of how the results were interpreted and key habitat features retained during the works

3) Photographic record that such features were retained

Until the above are supplied I am inclined to think that no regard at all was given to existing herpetofauna at the site. 

That Rob has every right to be raising the issue without being accused of 'presenting an inaccurate picture'. 

That Andy Froud ought to seriously consider Jon C's statement earlier regarding the issue of potential damage to the SSSI caused by these works.

And lastly that we have every right to discuss the events on here without being accused of being insulting. (again).

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Robert V View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Robert V Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jul 2012 at 3:35pm
Firstly,
 
can I say thanks Gemma for the support, and for seeing the wood for the trees, no pun intended.
 
Like you say, Mr. Froud's extensive reply is more about what isn't mentioned than what is. A long history lesson and plenty about the Oaks and the Birch - nothing about what dwells beneath.
 
So' here's a cut and paste of my reply.
 

“The heathy /grassy areas stretching between Rushey Plain and Sunshine Plain used to be larger and better inter-linked than they are today as old OS maps and aerial photos reveal. The majority of these grassy areas have been lost over many years, not only due to the cessation of pollarding creating a closed woodland canopy but also due to dense secondary birch infill shading out the ground flora.”

 

Er, yes, is that an admission of poor management over the years then Mr. Froud?

 

 

“In this case work was carried out this last winter to halo Oak pollards and link the areas between them and to expand the main heathy glade that was originally re-created by volunteers and staff in the 1990s and which has been maintained by active work ever since.”

 

Call it “haloing”, call it what you want, but whoever did it removed all the ground vegetation. I know this Mr. Froud because I have walked through the forest practically every weekend for over 15 years. It is just very unfortunate that when this – “haloing” - was happening I hadn’t happened along. I can assure you that had I been there in time, and had I found a single reptile killed as a result of being “haloed” to death, there would have been a legal involvement.

 

 

“It is important to note at this point that the work photographed and discussed on the website only involved the felling of Birch, the removal of the felled logs and wood-chippings and stump-grinding of selected stumps.”

 

That’s total poppycock. My photographs don’t lie Mr.Froud. They show the ground completely scoured of ground cover. Are you saying that between the larger trees no ground vegetation existed whatsoever? Did you take photographs before the works started?

 

 

“The ground flora within this area was very sparse due to the lack of sunlight reaching the woodland floor and consisted mainly of thin patches of bracken, bramble and purple moor grass. Therefore, the lack of ground vegetation in the photos posted on the website is not due to the ground flora having been mechanically scraped away but due to the former shade suppression by the closed woodland canopy. No work was carried out within the already established grassy glade.” 

 

Please say in black and white Mr. Froud that you are calling me a liar. I am telling you that there was a healthy range of ground cover in this area prior to the works being undertaken. It was one of the few strong holds of Grass Snakes in the forest, and I have records of those, Slow Worms and Common Lizards here in 2011. I agree with Gemma, Kindly show us the results of the reptile surveys undertaken here before work started?

 

RobV
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Madfossa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jul 2012 at 12:30pm
Thanks for your replys and views on this subject.

Especially to Gemma who put across your views so eloquently and persuasively, and to Rob whos intimate knowledge both historically and upto the present date are invaluable when presenting a case/argument. 
I actually visited the area on sunday to do a quick visual survey, see what was about. I didnt see any sign of reptiles at all, though time of day may have been a factor.
If as Gemma suggested anyone wants to meet up there let me know.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JaySteel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Jul 2012 at 5:21pm
I keep checking back to this topic to see if Andy has addressed the points raised and come up with any satisfactory explanations. Unfortunately he hasn't. Unhappy

Jason
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Madfossa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jul 2012 at 1:00am
Dont think he'll comment on here tbh, i have emailed concerns to him and will post back when i get a reply
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