PLANS to improve the habitat at Scrabo of Ireland’s only terrestrial lizard, have been welcomed by the borough’s Mayor. Because of the encroachment of scrub, the habitat of the Common Lizard on Scrabo Hill is in danger of being lost so a new scheme has been put in place to protect this rare animal.

To protect this area, a programme of works was devised by the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership. The partnership’s ‘Dragons in the Hills’ project aims to prevent this habitat loss. Ards and North Down Council staff have been aided by volunteers, the National Trust and the South-Eastern Regional College (SERC) to upgrade the habitat.

They worked to implement areas where lizards can bask in the sun, installed an overwinter hibernaculum while also removing gorse and rocks. Having visited Scrabo Tower, Mayor Karen Douglas welcomed the work in the area, congratulating the Scrabo team. “I am delighted that Ards and North Down provides a home for the country’s only native reptile,” she said. “The Common Lizard is classified as a priority protected species but there are only a few sites that are specifically managed for them.

“With that in mind, the work at Scrabo, which was a joint effort between Ards and North Down Borough Council, the National Trust’s Strangford team, the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership, Bangor SERC students and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, is very worthwhile,” said Ms Douglas. The Dragons in the Hills project was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, with the Amphibians and Reptiles Group (ARG) and the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership. More information can be found at