Year of the Toad
A recent study by Froglife and partners from The University of Zurich in Switzerland has shown that on average common toads have declined by 68% over the last 30 years in the UK. In some areas, such as the south east of England, declines have been even more pronounced. These declines have been mirrored in Switzerland. The full paper was published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE (http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0161943).
Data for this study was collected by thousands of volunteers in the UK, working as part of Froglife’s ‘Toads on Roads’ patrols, who go out every year to help save amphibians as they migrate to their breeding ponds across busy roads. Toads are particularly vulnerable and over 800,000 are carried to safety by volunteers each year in the UK and Switzerland.
It is not clear what has caused numbers of toads to drop so dramatically but likely causes are a combination of changes to farming practices, loss of ponds, an increase in urbanisation and more deaths on roads as traffic values have increased. Climate change could also be a factor as research has shown that milder winters are detrimental for hibernating toads.
In response to these findings Froglife has launched a “Year of the Toad” to raise awareness of the issue and raise funds to carry out further research into the causes of these declines and deliver practical conservation projects on the ground to help protect important toad sites.
You can help by:
- Telling others about the issue i.e. talking to friends and family and sharing posts on social media using #YearoftheToad
- Joining or setting up a local Toad Patrol
- Donating to our Tuppence a Toad appeal
- Recording toads on our Dragon Finder App
- Making your garden wildlife friendly to provide safe places for toads to feed and hibernate
- Creating a wildlife pond with a section of deeper water in the middle that toads can use to breed.
- Carrying out some toad-themed activities and sharing your creations with Froglife. These instructions are written for teachers, but should still work for anyone looking for fun activities with children.
MSP Species Champion for the Common Toad
Froglife are an active part of Scottish Environment Link’s Species Champion project (find out who our current champions are here).
To date, 64 MSPs have become Species Champions. To support our Year of the Toad campaign we looked to find an extra special MSP to represent common toads in Scotland and are delighted that Mary Fee MSP for West Scotland has taken up the challenge!
- Find out more about what Champions have done since the initiative launched in 2013.
To help promote our research findings and the Year of the Toad we have been giving Toad Talks to various groups from the Cambridge Conservation Forum’s Annual Symposium to local school assemblies. Our aim is to get the message out to diverse audiences and engage more people with the plight of toads. We have limited resources to be able to deliver these talks but if you would be interested in inviting us to give a talk at a conference or other event then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
To mark the Year of the Toad we have teamed up with Education Quizzes to create a special Toad quiz. This quiz was written by our Scottish Dragon Finder Trainee Alasdair Lemon and enables you to test your species knowledge while raising awareness of the issues facing common toads. It has been published in December 2016 just in time for Christmas Quizzes!
Charter for Trees, Woods and People
Woodlands are an important terrestrial habitat for common toads. In the Autumn the animals move away from their breeding ponds and towards their overwintering sites. Woodlands provide safe places for toads to shelter overwinter. Toadlets and adults spend the winter buried down in mud, under compost heaps or amongst dead wood. They do not hibernate as such and may take advantage of milder patches of weather to come out and forage.
To link in with the Year of the Toad campaign Froglife have become an official partner of the Charter for Trees, Woods and People.
Led by the Woodland Trust, more than 50 organisations from across multiple sectors, are standing together to call for a Charter for Trees, Woods and People.
Through collecting stories about what trees and woods mean to people, we are building a picture of their value to everyone in the UK. These stories will be used to create a set of guiding principles, around which the charter will be written. The final Charter for Trees, Woods and People will influence policy and practice and celebrate the role that trees and woods play in our lives.
The new charter will launch on November 6th 2017, the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest.
Toad Art Competition
Huge thanks to everyone who entered our Toad Art Competition, the first activity of our Year of the Toad campaign. We received some beautiful drawings from people of all ages and are delighted to announce that the following people’s drawings will be featured in a new toad colouring book, sales of which will help raise funds for toad conservation, alongside contributions from professional artists:
Harriet Vail (image below), Lesley Lane, Cat Duerden, Danielle Bagnall, Nadia Ming, Marc Hendry, Emma Price, Tom Cox, Helen Firminger and Hannah Millgate.