At the moment I’m in Sweden, visiting my good friend and colleague Claes Andrén, Scientific Director at Norden’s Ark. It’s been a wonderful week experiencing the wild nature of Sweden, and the visit has also provided an important opportunity for us to progress our collaborative conservation initiative ‘Project Lemur Frog‘.
During part of the week I’ve also had the chance to join Claes and his team travelling across Sweden to Öland, a wonderful large island situated in the Baltic Sea and joined to mainland Sweden by a 6Km long bridge. The trip was a very important one, as the special habitat found in Öland is the last place in Sweden suitable for the native Green Toad, Bufo viridis.
The captive breeding and re-introduction of this toad by Norden’s Ark highlights their commitment to working with local communities and supporting the conservation and protection of native flora and fauna, something clearly as important to them as the wonderful support they provide to the many threatened species across the globe.
Öland is a very special place and the dominant environmental feature of the island is the Stora Alvaret, a limestone pavement which is the habitat of numerous rare and endangered species. It is also now a World Heritage Site.
During the trip we also got to meet Susanne Forslund, who works closely with the local community here and has dedicated 10-15 yeas to supporting all the flora and fauna found on Öland. She has also been instrumental in establishing 3 ‘LIFE’ projects.
Susanne’s dedication and passion for the place is overwhelming and what she and her colleagues have accomplished is truly admiral and highly inspiring. The green toad reintroduction, back into the place the last green toads in Sweden once occurred, and in partnership with Norden’s Ark, is only a small part of her achievements – but none the less impressive to witness first hand.
Part of the toad project has involved developing and supporting specific environments where the introduced colonies of toads can then grow. These include creating new ponds at a protected Bird reserve in Ottenby, southern Öland, and protecting a 87 hectare coastal meadow area at Hogby hamn in northern Öland, which she manages with the full co-operation and collaboration of local farmers.
It was a real pleasure to meet Susanne, and to participate in the releasing of the green toads, raised by Norden’s Ark, by her and Claes this week.