Oriol Baena Crespo, Land Stewardship Agreements technician at the Catalan Herpetological Society (SCH).
Oriol studied environmental sciences in Barcelona and Ecology in the Netherlands. He considers himself a European citizen and a nature specialist.
He always had a strong interest in topics like nature conservation, agriculture, access to land and rural structures. He has been dedicated to those crucial topics for already eight years.
Oriol has been part of the SCH board since 2010 and working there since 2019 as Land Stewardship Agreements technician. He manages around 50 ha of land for the organisation. From cropland to rivers, ponds to grasslands to forests. SCH takes care of diverse landscapes with particular attention to aquatic habitats.
The Catalan Herpetological Society is a non-profit organisation founded in 1981; it is dedicated to studying and conservating amphibians and reptiles in Catalonia and its surroundings. But to protect the species, the land, nature, and habitats must be taken care of. The SCH has thus a holistic approach.
Marie Orban, ENPLC: “Thank you, Oriol, for being part of the ENPLC community. SCH's role and activities are unique and inspiring. Could you describe what you do?”
Oriol Baena Crespo: “The SCH brings together both amateur and professional herpetologists to increase scientific knowledge and improve the conservation status of our herpetofauna. Awareness raising is critical as these species are not properly known, and uncertainty can scare people. Our activities focus on three pillars:
Species and land conservation
Educate and raise awareness
“We try to enhance the presence and protection of our herpetofauna. For that, we need solid scientific knowledge. In a nutshell:
- we monitor the species and population,
- promote activities such as courses, conferences and field trips.
- encourage communication between the members of our association.
- And award prizes for research and herpetological conservation projects.”
Boost volunteering in hands-on conservation actions is one of the main focuses of SCH. © SCH
Oriol Baena Crespo: “In 2020, the European Commission published a statement on amphibians. Long story short: the situation is worrying. According to the EEA Report Number 10, many terrestrial habitats are severely impacted by agriculture, especially grasslands and freshwater habitats, heath and scrub, bogs, mires and fens. This is also the case for most species groups, including reptiles, molluscs, amphibians, arthropods, vascular plants and breeding birds.
Amphibians have the highest proportion of deteriorating trends (close to 50 %). Around half of their assessments show further deterioration, decreasing population sizes that are reported for approximately 30 % of amphibians species groups.
But that’s not all. Amphibians are also affected by animal diseases to an exceptionally great extent. Amphibians are susceptible to temperature and changes in precipitation because of their central position in food webs, their strong dependence on aquatic and terrestrial systems, and their moist permeable skin acting as a sensitive respiratory organ (Olson and Saenz, 2013).
At SCH, we firmly believe that we all are in charge of conserving not well-protected animals and have the responsibility and a role to play.”
70% of our members are based in Barcelona and its surroundings. But we wanted to include farms in remote places as well.
We cooperate with local organisations to have a rural and regional approach.
We have farms in mountain areas, farms with Mediterranean landscapes, and one spot is near a river.