Minerals - Reptile translocation
West Heath Quarry, West Harting, Sussex
In order to implement Mineral Planning Consents at West Heath Quarry, CEMEX UK Operations Ltd are conditioned to trap and translocate adders, grass snakes, slow-worms and common lizards from land to be worked, and release them into 4.2 ha of land which is to be restored from mono-species bracken cover to a mosaic of heather and acid-grassland.
AEcol were commissioned to produce an Ecological Management Plan (EMP) that would be guided by annual monitoring, to trap out the reptiles present, and to provide habitat creation advice.
The consented area is to be worked in four phases, so the restoration was similarly divided within the EMP. This division allowed small-scale attempts at habitat creation to test management actions and monitor the results prior to applying them to the wider area. In order to produce a monitoring scheme that would ensure the EMP was effective, the AEcol Monitoring Framework was used to define the objective and set a trigger threshold for action using a combination of Phase 1 habitat mapping and fixed-point photography. At the same time comparative reptile surveillance is performed in both the donor and receptor site; the logic being that if management actions are effective, more reptiles will be encountered per m² within the receptor area than the remaining donor area.
A trapping grid of artificial reptile refuges was then set out and left for reptiles to become accustomed to them, while the first stage of the bracken treatment was performed in the receptor area.
The baseline conditions of the donor and receptor sites have been defined, the first stage of bracken treatment has begun and the first phase of the site has been cleared of reptiles in advance of quarrying. The monitoring will run for the life of the scheme and will inform future actions not only at West Heath, but at CEMEX sites across the country.
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