Unknown Wales Conference Review 2014

Peter Hill of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust

Peter Hill of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust

We had a fantastic day at the 4th annual Unknown Wales Conference this year, held on Saturday 11th October 2014 in conjunction with the National Museum of Wales, with over 200 delegates joining us at the museum for a day of interesting talks.

The day kicked off with a brilliant talk from Dr Tim Healing, who gave us an account of his long-term study of the bank vole on our Skomer Island and on neighbouring Ramsey Island. Survey methodologies and population trends were covered and there were plenty of photos to add the ‘cute factor’ to the day!

The next talk, by Dr Ingrid Juettner of the National Museum Wales introduced us to the fascinating world of diatoms, tiny single celled algal organisms that many of us knew nothing about. Ingrid talked to us about her work monitoring diatoms as indicators of environmental change- their small size makes them very reactive to changes in water quality.

Stephen Moss talks about the revival of the Red Kite in Wales

Stephen Moss talks about the revival of the Red Kite in Wales

After a short break, we learnt about the reintroduction of sand lizards to our Welsh coasts from Peter Hill of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust, with plenty of photos of the stunning lizards in their natural habitat.

This was followed by Dr Sarah Beynon of Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm, who taught us the importance of dung beetles for waste management on agricultural land. We were also given the opportunity to take part in a citizen science project mapping the genetic diversity of dung beetles- find out more about this here.

After lunch, we were taken on a journey through deep time with Professor Barry Thomas of Aberystwyth University, who showed us the process involved in extracting fossils from Brymbo in North Wales and gave us an insight in to the information that can be gained from these fossils.

The 'Mystery of the Barry Triangle' intrigued us all! Douglas Herdson presented the mystery and presented some possible answers as to why rare fish are often found off the coast of Wales. It was incredible to see photos of the warm water fish that have appeared off our shores, such as the swordfish.

The day ended with an uplifting and thought provoking presentation from TV Producer and writer Stephen Moss on Britain's Big Wildlife Revival. Stephen highlighted the importance of education and allowing people to enjoy wildlife in order to protect it for the future.

Thank you very much to all our speakers and to everyone who attended. Watch this space for the date for next years' conference.