Call 07977 393016 or email Alison.email@example.com.
Please get in touch if you need any assistance with otter surveys on your projects.
Call 07977 393016 or email Alison.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Look no further – I can help!
Spring is in the air and we are all gearing up for a busy survey season.
With a shortage of experienced Senior and Principal Ecologists available and lots of projects to deliver, this can create a challenge.
In recent years, we have been able to support our clients' ecology teams, by providing high-level technical expertise on projects where there may be a gap in skills or experience, or simply just a shortage of resources available at the right time or in the right place.
Below are just a few examples of how I can input technical expertise at times when it is needed at a Senior or Principal level, often by integrating into the client’s own ecology team or in close collaboration with the team. Face to face meetings and site visits can often be useful as a starting point, but with conference calling and file sharing technology readily available, collaboration on projects can also be done remotely.
I really enjoy working with and collaborating with other ecologists, especially on projects where the focus is on the delivery of large scale benefits for biodiversity, so if you have any projects in mind and would like to work together then please get in touch.
I am always looking to deliver projects that have positive and lasting benefits for people, nature and the environment and am especially interested in new survey methods and techniques that can enable us to do this more effectively, more efficiently, at lower cost and with greater benefits.
The more I learn about the use of detection dogs in wildlife surveys, the more excited I am about the huge potential of this method. In December, I attended a CIEEM South-West workshop on the use of detection dogs in ecology and conservation run by Kate Jeffreys of Geckoella, Louise Wilson of Conservation K9 Consultancy and Nikki Glover of Wessex Water.
Louise shared some of her incredible knowledge and experience and talked us through how she has been working on expanding the use of detection dogs for this type of work in the UK for many years, having done this successfully overseas. The workshop also included a demonstration by Freya the great crested newt detection dog, trained and handled by Nikki Glover of Wessex Water.
For anyone wanting to find out more, there is a useful article published in ‘Inside Ecology’ which looks at the use of detection dogs, provides some examples of their current use in the UK and calls for suitable guidance to be developed for the responsible and effective use of detection dogs in conservation in the UK.
Following the workshop the Ecology Detection Dogs in Britain and Ireland Facebook group has been created for sharing information. If you have carried out any projects with detection dogs, or have projects where you think they could be used it would great to hear more so that we can start to gather together case studies of successful projects, look at potential future projects, identify areas of research needed and start to gather thoughts on guidance and any other useful information.
Spring is in the air and this is an important time for planning ecology surveys.
Many surveys are seasonally restricted, so if your project schedule is tight then it is important to plan ahead to prevent delays later on, which can be costly and frustrating. For example:
If there are ponds close to your development site, great crested newt surveys may be required. These need to be carried out between mid March and Mid June with multiple survey visits required. Access to ponds off site up to 500m away can be required, with permission from third party landowners needed in advance, so planning ahead is vital.
If there are woodlands or hedgerows to be affected, now is a good time to set up any dormouse surveys needed, allowing for the regular survey visits throughout the spring, summer and autumn.
For projects affecting buildings or trees an early assessment of their potential for roosting bats will allow plenty of time for bat emergence or activity surveys during the spring, summer and autumn.
Missing the optimum season for these and other surveys can cause delays to planning applications, or to carrying out work on site so seek advice from an ecologist at an early stage in your project to allow plenty of time for any seasonal surveys.
Natural England is to implement an innovative new approach to the conservation of great crested newts across the country.
The new approach has been piloted in partnership with Woking Borough Council in Surrey and will now start to be introduced across the country after its roll-out was announced in the Department for Communities and Local Government’s Housing White Paper.
This new 3 year programme will survey areas where newts are most prevalent, map the potential impacts of development and propose local conservation strategies for the species.
Read the full press release from Natural England at the following link:
One thing I love about my job is that there really is no such thing as a typical day. It varies from day to day and from one season to another. A site can be anything from a small building in an urban area, to a twenty-mile stretch of railway, or an area of farmland and ancient woodland. A project could be anything from a homeowner converting a loft to a large railway improvement scheme or a proposed development. Each day brings something new.
The need for surveys and ecological impact assessment is largely driven by national and international legislation and local and national planning policy.
Most surveys are seasonal and many are limited to certain times of the day or times of the year to tie in with species behaviour or life cycles.
March to September are busy months with May and June usually the busiest. A typical day at the end of May might include:
03.00-05.00 Dawn bat survey
05.00-07.00 Break for some breakfast and catch up on some sleep
07.00-08.00 Travel to next site
08.00-14.00 Phase 1 Habitat Survey & Preliminary Ecological Appraisal for a new project
14.00 – 15.00 Break for some lunch
15.00 – 17.00 Sort out data from dawn bat survey and Phase 1 survey, catch up on emails and phonecalls
17.00 – 18.00 An early dinner before travelling to the next site
18.00 – 23.00 Carry out evening amphibian survey
On other days it could be reptile, badger or dormouse surveys, or on site supervision for a construction project.
The winter months tend to be a little quieter, but there are still many surveys possible, such as daytime site assessments, building or tree assessments for bats, badger or otter surveys, meetings with clients, training, conferences, data analysis or writing reports.
So how did I come to be an Ecologist? After commuting from Guildford to London to work in Fundraising and Marketing for several years, I decided it was time for a change. I volunteered for three months on a conservation project in Zambia followed by studying for an MSc in Environmental Management on my return to the UK along with working part time at a small conservation organisation. My MSc included a placement at Atkins, who then took me on as an Ecologist, where I stayed for about ten years before I set up New Leaf Ecology to start work as a freelance ecological consultant four years ago.
Sometimes when I am soaked to the skin at the end of a long day doing habitat surveys in the rain, or am struggling to keep my eyes open on a dusk bat survey after a long week of sleep deprivation, I ask myself if I would rather be back in a nice warm office in London and for me the answer is always “No”.
The up sides of all these early morning and late night surveys are great people to work with, huge variety, working outdoors, endless interesting wildlife encounters and the chance to always be learning something new.
I really enjoy working with clients to help them understand the impacts of the their work, finding ways to avoid or minimise these and building in opportunities for wildlife as part of their projects.
Alison is a freelance ecological consultant with over fourteen years’ experience managing ecological projects, undertaking survey work and providing specialist ecological advice for large and small scale projects in the UK and overseas.