Public urged to send in photos to help South Yorkshire reptile survey

19 May 2016

Roseanna Burton, community officer at the DVLP, with support from European reptile expert John Newton.People are being urged to share their snaps of local reptiles as part of a large-scale survey of the creatures in South Yorkshire.

The Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership (DVLP) has been gathering information on the reptilian residents of the Dearne Valley area since the start of the year, but needs help from the public to look for more.

The aim is to build up an accurate picture of the numbers of lizards, slow worms and snakes which inhabit the local woodlands, grasslands, waterways, hedges, verges and shrubland. The information from the survey will help to ensure the creatures are protected and preserved. 

A group of volunteers have been taking part in organised surveys that are helping to fill gaps in data, but photos and sightings from members of the public are also needed to build a strong and accurate record of the types and numbers of reptiles around.

People are being asked to keep an eye out for the creatures in the Dearne Valley area. This extends from Barnsley town centre in the west to Conisbrough in the east and from Wentworth and Swinton in the south to Grimethorpe and Thurnscoe in the north.  They are being encouraged to take photos and record where they are, when out and about on walks, jogs, bike rides – or even in their back garden.

The reptile survey has been organised through the DVLP which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, thanks to National Lottery players. It is being led by Roseanna Burton, community officer at the DVLP, with support from European reptile expert John Newton.

Roseanna said: “We really need members of the public to let us know about any credible sightings of reptiles in the area, even if it is just their back garden, or a local site they visit.  Unfortunately, we don’t know much about the distribution of reptiles in the Dearne Valley so this will help us piece together a greater picture of where they live, meaning we can help ensure they are protected. With longer evenings and warmer weather, this is a great time of year for the public to get involved in the survey. The Dearne Valley is a beautiful place to explore, these reptiles are all harmless, and it’s amazing what you can find when you look hard enough.”

The reptile survey is part of a wider environmental heritage project by DVLP, ‘Surveying the Dearne’, which aims to fill in gaps in ecological data, train and educate local communities in wildlife identification, and enhance biodiversity of key sites through more sympathetic management - which requires strong wildlife records.

John Newton said: “With more biological records there is a greater understanding of the rarity and fragility of habitat in the Dearne, which in turn supports a number of these rare and misunderstood species. It’s hugely important that we have accurate records of what is currently living in the area, and we are depending on the human residents to help us with this. We’d love to see as many people as possible send in their sightings.”

To submit photographs and details of your own reptile sightings, or find out how you can get involved in the survey as a volunteer, please email or call 01226 787540.

Below, listen to Roseanna Burton of the DVLP talk on BBC Radio Sheffield about the hunt for reptiles:

Notes to editor

Attached images show Roseanna Burton and John Newton.

For more information about the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership, contact Sally Gawthorpe on 01226 772131or 

The Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership (DVLP) is a five-year scheme, running until June 2019 focusing on the historic buildings and landscapes of the Dearne Valley, working with the local communities to protect, preserve and enhance the area. The DVLP is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund with a grant of almost £1.8m. For more information visit

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. @heritagelottery @HLFYandH

The lead partner of the DVLP is Barnsley Council with a partnership that includes Rotherham and Doncaster Councils, the RSPB, Natural England, the Environment Agency, the Garganey Trust and Groundwork South Yorkshire. The DVLP is based at Elsecar Heritage Centre.

Additional media contact: Mary Ferguson on 01226 766900 or at

This press release was prepared by Capital B Media, a public relations and media training agency based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. For more information, please visit 

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