The United Nations declared 2010 as International Year of Biodiversity, and people and various institutions all over the world are working to protect valuable wildlife and habitat. Stiftung Artenschutz also takes action: It supports the project "Amphibian Conservation in Fishing Waters". In 2008, the Year of the Frog, the initiative "Frogs matter - Jump in!" already called for action in the field of amphibian conservation. Now the new project aims at winning the support of a new target group for amphibian conservation in our own 'backyard' — anglers.
Most of the waters in North Rhine-Westphalia are either leased or owned by fishing clubs, most of which attach importance to nature conservation. The project 'Amphibian Conservation in Fishing Waters' offers a great chance of cooperation for conserving toads, frogs and other amphibians.
Amphibians actually are in dire need of help: One in three of roughly 6.800 species known worldwide is threatened by extinction, ranking amphibians amongst the most endangered animals in the world. Also in Germany most of the 21 native amphibian species are threatened. Even species which are not yet endangered have suffered significant population declines during the last 25 years.
Various factors are responsible for the loss of amphibians, but the most immediate threat to this animal group is degradation to or loss of habitat. Land consolidation has caused smaller ponds and wetlands to disappear, roadside ditches were drained and habitat fragmentation caused by road construction threatened whole populations. Additionally, the use of liquid manure, chemical fertilizers and biocides at agricultural sites make the survival of amphibians even more difficult.
The project focuses mainly on the structural improvement of fishing waters. Almost all stagnant waters in North Rhine-Westphalia are not of natural origin. They emerged either by damming up natural water flows or by excavation of sand and gravel. Flooded gravel pits have extremely narrow banks or do not have any at all. However, banks are of extreme ecological importance for amphibians or young fish.
Supported by the Federal State Fisheries Association of Westphalia and Lippe, the project 'Amphibian Conservation in Fishing Waters' offers educational workshops and professional advice on the planning and implementation of amphibian conservation measures. Often small measures make all the difference: Sometimes an exclusive spawning ground is needed, some other time new shallow water areas are created, rich in vegetation. Amphibian conservation measures are habitat protection measures that many other species benefit from.
This project is supported by Stiftung Umwelt und Entwicklung (North Rhine-Westphalian Foundation for Environment and Development) and Stiftung Artenschutz.