New report sheds some light on Welsh sand lizard population

Two sand lizards on a log

A newly released report by a major conservation project led by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has shed some light on the populations of sand lizards at two sand dune sites on Anglesey.

A series of surveys run as part of NRW’s Sands of LIFE project found sand lizard populations across 10 separate survey visits at the two surveyed sites; Tywyn Aberffraw and Newborough Warren.

The sand lizard surveys were carried out in areas where Sands of LIFE work is planned. Searches took place in April, May and September 2019, and breeding within the last year was evident.

The sand lizard is Wales’ rarest reptile. They were once widespread along the North Wales coast, but became extinct during the 1960s, a result of development and sea defence work. Sand lizard populations have been rediscovered at Tywyn Aberffraw and Newborough Warren over the last decade and are presumed to be unofficial introductions.

As a European Protected Species, appropriate survey and mitigation is necessary before any intervention work is carried out. This ensures that the planned Sands of LIFE work to revitalise the sand dunes will not damage the current sand lizard population found at the sites.

Kathryn Hewitt, Sands of LIFE Project Manager, said:

We are glad to be able to share the Sands of LIFE sand lizard report findings. As Wales’ rarest reptile, our project will do everything in our power to ensure that the current population found at both sites are not only safe and protected but are also provided with the best possible conditions to thrive.
In the long term, the increased areas of bare sand as a result of our work should enhance and increase the resilience of this species at both sites.

NRW’s Sands of LIFE project aims to restore over 2,400 hectares of sand dunes, across four Special Areas of Conservation, on 10 separate Welsh sites. The project will run until December 2022.