Once again, the annual Herpetofauna Workers’ Meeting (HWM) was a huge success attracting over 208 delegates in 2017, with a lively mix of professional herpetologists, volunteers, academics, students, representatives from the statutory agencies and other conservation organisations; drawn from all corners of the UK and beyond, with welcome inputs from colleagues in Ireland and the Netherlands.
We were treated to a varied programme of presentations covering a wide range of subjects, and as well as updates from the Government Agencies and other policy updates, we heard about a range of reptile mitigation studies, including the final showdown between the film industry and our native sand lizards in the woodlands of Surrey; novel ideas for Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS); the latest information about a new and potentially highly pathogenic form of chytrid, caused by Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, in continental Europe; Aesculapian snakes in North Wales; great crested newt genetics; RAVON’s monitoring work in the Netherlands; how citizen science can help resolve the problems posed by invasive alien species; ARC’s ground breaking ‘Great Crested Newt Detectives’, public outreach project in Scotland; an update on the outcomes from the Vanishing Viper: priorities for adder conservation meeting; and much more.
Complementing the presentations, a series of interesting & useful interactive workshops gave everyone a chance to get involved. These covered an equally diverse range of subjects that ranged from an update from Natural England’s Rob Cameron about the proposed changes to great crested newt licensing; to a rigorous look at the application of eDNA technology to detect great crested newts, from Andrew Buxton of DICE supported by colleagues from Natural England. In addition to an inspiring presentation on farmland pond restoration, the team from UCL, Carl Sayer and Ewan Shilland, treated us to a more ‘hands on’ workshop with practical tips for pond restoration. There were also two consultation workshops, with John Dickson helping ARG UK develop guidelines for guided reptile walks; and a joint ARC-ARG UK workshop led by Angie Julian and John Wilkinson, to help develop the next phase of the national amphibian and reptile survey scheme for widespread species monitoring across UK.
As well as the informative presentations and workshops, the HWM provides an excellent opportunity for networking and making interesting and productive new connections. The Gala dinner & social evening allows everyone to let their hair down, catch up with old friends and make new ones. We now look forward to the fast approaching active survey season and to the 2018 HWM. Perhaps we’ll see you there!