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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-07056: Mark Ruskell (Mid Scotland and Fife)

Scottish Green Party

Date lodged: 9 February 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to protect the natterjack toad population (a) east of the River Nith and (b) at Caerlaverock National Nature in light of the species' "favourable declining" status.

Answered by: Roseanna Cunningham 1 March 2017

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is taking the following action to protect natterjack toad populations in light of the species’ “favourable declining” status as set out below.

East of the River Nith

There are seven management agreements with landowners in place to the east of the River Nith which will provide measures for management of natterjack toads. There are currently a further three holdings on Priestside, to the east of Carlaeverock Castle, where there have previously been agreements in place for habitat management for the benefit of natterjack toads but have now expired. SNH estimates that 80% of suitable natterjack toad habitat is currently in appropriate assured management on the east side of the Nith.

Considerable habitat management work at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust’s East Park Farm, Caerlaverock, has been carried out in recent years, including pond maintenance and grazing. This was funded, in part, by a grant from SNH.

SNH funds a management agreement with the owners of Royal Ordnance, Powfoot Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), running from 2015 to 2020. Through this management agreement, there is funding for maintenance of pools and scrapes for breeding amphibians, maintenance of foraging areas, and maintenance of refugia and monitoring. This is funding habitat maintenance and restoration. This SSSI is notified for the amphibian assemblage as well as natterjack toads.

The Broom Sand Quarry, which is adjacent to the Royal Ordnance Powfoot SSSI, has populations of natterjack toads. Quarrying operations here are carried out under planning permissions with conditions that support natterjack toad interests. Natterjack toads at the quarry are subject to a long term Species Protection Plan.

Caerlaverock National Nature

Natterjack toads are one of the species specifically mentioned in the Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve Management Plan. An account of work undertaken in the past plan period is given in the Reserve Plan Review for Caerlaverock 2009-2015 available on the SNH web site at http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/A2138353.pdf.

This includes the creation of small pools, maintenance of refugia, supporting an appropriate grazing regime and monitoring. These works will continue as set out in the new Caerlaverock Reserve Management Plan covering the period 2016-2026 which can be accessed at http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/A2138355.pdf.