Northern Ireland news

Land for Ireland's only native lizard saved by conservationists in Co Down

The common lizard is native to Ireland and a population has been identified in the Scrabo area of Co Down.
Michael Kenwood

ONGOING work to save land in Co Down used by Ireland's only native lizard has been praised.

Volunteers and conservationists have been removing scrub that has been encroaching on an area at Scrabo identified as being home to a population of Zootoca vivipara, known as the common lizard.

It is the only lizard species native to the island of Ireland and the land at Scrabo had been deemed at risk by the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership.

They devised the 'Dragons in the Hills' project to save the land, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund in partnership with the Amphibians and Reptiles Group charity.

Ards and North Down Borough Council backed the scheme, that saw the removal of gorse and bracken over two days last week to expose walls and rocks so the lizards can bask in sunshine.

A 'hibernaculum' area allowing the lizards to hibernate in winter has also been built as part of the scheme, in which students from Bangor SERC took part.

Ards and North Down mayor Karen Douglas, said: "I am delighted that Ards and North Down provides a home for the country’s only native reptile. The common lizard is classified as a priority protected species but there are only a few sites that are specifically managed for them."

Northern Ireland news