If you’re keen to get back out into the countryside and meet some of Wales’ real “dragons”, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation’s (ARC) new Monitoring Dragons project could be for you! Thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund the national wildlife charity aims to monitor the conservation status of amphibian and reptile (herpetofauna) populations across southern Wales for the first time in the region, with help from the public.

Evidence suggests that herpetofauna populations are declining worldwide, with habitat loss and fragmentation being key drivers. Amphibians and reptiles in Wales face the same threats, but these can be very difficult to assess due to a lack of long-term monitoring data – which the new project aims to address. The project will include all species of herpetofauna found in southern Wales, but will focus on three priority species, the addercommon toad and great crested newt.

A key element of this project is the training and mentoring of new and existing citizen scientists in herpetofauna survey techniques, and facilitating the use of their newfound skills, including how to use innovative new recording technologies (mobile data collection).

We have identified a wide range of target survey sites in all local authority areas in south Wales, from national parks to post-industrial brownfield sites – we just need volunteers to take them on!

We will be taking great care to ensure all project activities comply with local COVID-19 restrictions in order to keep everyone safe.

“Volunteers will be matched to Welsh monitoring sites in our pilot network and supported with the tools and skills required by our field officers, beyond the initial survey, so it’s a great way for people to find out about their local area and develop their ecological skills.”

Said ARC project officer George Mee:

“Monitoring sites established during this project will be used for years to come, providing invaluable data to researchers, NGOs and Statutory Nature Conservation organisations, building a brighter future for amphibians and reptiles in Wales.”

Contact george.mee@arc-trust.org for information on how to participate.