Britain’s rarest reptile home restored through five-year effort

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rucial refuges for wildlife have been saved thanks to a five-year conservation effort.

Moorland has been restored at 41 sites in South Downs National Park in Hampshire and Sussex, providing new habitat for the sand lizard, the UK’s rarest reptile.

In total, the sites represent an area roughly equal to 18,000 football fields.

The Heathlands Reunited initiative, which received £ 2million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, has also enabled the return and recovery of endangered species, including the Field Cricket, Dartford’s Warbler and the Natterjack Toad.

Sand Lizard (South Downs National Park / PA Wire)

A spokesperson for the national park said: “The project has focused on heathland at 41 sites, stretching from Bordon in Hampshire to Pulborough in West Sussex.

“The need was deep as less than 1% of the old moor remains in the national park and what was left was very fragmented, leaving animals and plants vulnerable to extinction in these isolated island habitats.

“Moors are, in fact, man-made and only exist because our ancestors used them to dig peat for fuel, collect heather and graze animals, unintentionally creating a unique mosaic of habitats without which many plants and animals cannot survive now. “

Among the restored areas was Woolmer Forest, a Site of Special Scientific Interest in Hampshire which is home to 12 of Britain’s native reptile and amphibian species and which is now listed in ‘favorable state’ for wildlife. .

Andrew Lee, director of policy and campaign management at the National Park Authority, said: “We all know biodiversity is under unprecedented threat, but Heathlands Reunited is one of the success stories, showing all that can be accomplished if we make room for nature.

“Seeing animals such as the wood lark, sand lizard and field cricket flourish again is truly inspiring. “

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