Amphibian and Reptile Conservation is calling for a more measured response from Bournemouth commuters to road verge works being undertaken while slow-worms and sand lizards are hibernating.
The story has received a great deal of coverage in past days. Papers, including The Daily Mail and The Sun, report that local businesses are upset over the roadworks, fearing an impact on trade in the run-up to Christmas. Many blame the lizards, arguing that the needs of wildlife have come before those of people. (‘Lizards 1: People 0’, reads one headline of Bournemouth’s Daily Echo).
The issue needs a measured response, argues Amphibian and Reptile Conservation in letters to the papers involved.
“Efforts to reduce the impacts of essential road repairs should not be seen as a ‘battle between lizards and motorists’ but rather an attempt to strike a delicate balance between the protection of Dorset’s wildlife and providing a good transport infrastructure.” said Dr. John Wilkinson, a spokesperson for Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.
“The needs of Dorset residents and its protected species are both valid concerns and both must be carefully addressed in large-scale construction projects.” he added.
“More often than not, it is the wildlife that loses out as roads are driven through nature reserves (as is the case here with the Bournemouth spur road), and other natural areas.” said Rowland Griffin, ARC’s Dorset Community Officer.
“This not only negatively impacts wildlife but reduces the areas available to local people for leisure, cycling, walking, horseriding and for simply enjoying the countryside.”
Dorset is a stronghold for lizards, particularly sand lizards – a species restricted to the small pockets of heathland that remain in the UK countryside.
“Dorset would be a much poorer place to live without its wonderful heathlands and the unique wildlife that lives there. On a global scale, Dorset’s lowland heaths are rarer than tropical rainforest.” added Dr. Wilkinson.