Charity gets a £472,000 lottery boost to improve and restore River Nene habitats for local wildlife

PUBLISHED: 11:48 18 August 2014

Male Great Crested Newt (Photo: Dave Kilby)

Male Great Crested Newt (Photo: Dave Kilby)

© Dave Kilbey / ardea.com

Amphibians and reptiles living in the River Nene in Cambridgeshire and adjoining counties will be the focus of a £472,000 lottery backed conservation programme.

Male Adder (Photo Silviu Petrovan) Male Adder (Photo Silviu Petrovan)

Froglife, a wildlife conservation charity, has received the money from the Heritage Lottery Fund for its River Nene Dragon Finder project.

Over the next four and a half years, people who live alongside the river will be brought together to work on improving, restoring and creating over 150 habitat sites for local wildlife.

A recent assessment of European species carried out by the IUCN (International Union of Conservation of Nature) found that 59 per cent of amphibians and 42 per cent of reptile species are in decline. The main threat is habitat loss and disease and for instance, over the last 50 years one third of the ponds in the UK have disappeared.

Along the River Nene, locals and visitors will be able to take part in habitat management and species identification and monitoring.

A varied programme of events and activities will be held including Dragon Trail Fun Days, Dragon Boat Festivals, Dragon Boat Tours and opportunities to ‘swim with the dragons’ in local pools.

Farmers and landowners living and working alongside the river will be given a chance to learn more about wildlife friendly farming and creating habitat sites for reptiles and amphibians.

Kathy Wormald, Froglife chief executive, said: “The project will also provide employment opportunities in the region through offering two traineeships that will be trained in public engagement and wildlife conservation.”

Drew Bennellick of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “The project has the potential to make a real difference in the area and we’ll be watching how it progresses with great interest.”

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