British Herpetological Society - North West England

The British Isles has a comparatively small number of reptile and amphibian species, many of which are at the most northerly edge of their natural range.

The UK is blessed with the largest numbers of great crested newts (Triturus cristatus) anywhere in the world. This population is particularly concentrated in the North West of England and in the counties of Lancashire and Cheshire.

Traditional farming methods in Lancashire and Cheshire have led to the development of a landscape with a uniquely large number of ponds (especially marl pits), which are particularly favourable to amphibians. Despite dramatic pond losses during the last century the two counties still possess the greatest density of farm ponds anywhere in the UK.

logoThe British Herpetological Society (BHS) is one of the designated Lead Bodies for the conservation of great crested newts in the UK and is active in the production & implementation of the National Species Action Plan.

The North West of England also has some of the most extensive and important coastal habitats in the British Isles. Particularly extensive areas of sand dunes and tidal marshes can be found on the Merseyside and Lancashire coast. These form a network of Local Nature Reserves, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, three National Nature Reserves (Ainsdale Sand Dunes, Cabin Hills and the Ribble Marshes) and several Ramsar Sites (Wetlands of International Importance - including Morcambe Bay, Ribble Marshes and Martin Mere). These sites make up the largest network of wetland and coastal reserves in the UK. They are not only of international importance for their wintering birds and botany, but are also of vital importance to native herpetofauna species.

The very extensive sand Dunes of the Sefton coast provide one of the most significant remaining strongholds for Natterjack Toads (Bufo calamita) and the sand lizard (Lacerta agilis). These important breeding sites are managed by English Nature, the National Trust, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Sefton Borough Council under the direction of the joint Sefton Coast Management Scheme. Work to conserve these species is ongoing and involves efforts by the Herpetological Conservation Trust, English Nature, The North of England Zoological Society and the British Herpetological Society.

Anyone interested in further details or who would like to be involved in the conservation of native reptiles or amphibians in North-Western England, is encouraged to contact Richard Parkinson at

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