Posted on: Monday, March 4 2013
Our principle ecologist Miriam has been busy writing a detailed new habitat management plan for Prestwick Carr, part of which is a nature reserve managed by Northumberland Wildlife Trust. Prestwick Carr is an important wetland site, (part is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest) and it is now the only remaining lowland raised mire in south-east Northumberland.
The area was an important wildlife haven, but due to past land management the surrounding area is now prone to flooding, and the biodiversity of the site has also decreased.
Otter, five species of native owl and ground nesting birds such as snipe and redshank are all currently found on site and the new management plan looks to find ways to improve the biodiversity further, while reducing the flood risk to the surrounding land.
Posted on: Wednesday, February 20 2013
Our land management team have been very busy over the winter with several new willow spiling projects for a range of clients.
Willow spiling is a highly effective, soft engineering technique used to protect areas of riverbank which are at a high risk of erosion. Live willow is woven between live willow stakes to create a living revetment like structure.
It provides excellent erosion control at a fraction of the cost of traditional hard engineering techniques, while benefiting wildlife. A recent MSc project study has shown that sites with willow spiling have a higher biodiversity when compared to sites without spiling located in a similar habitat type.
Posted on: Thursday, March 22 2012
The EcoNorth design team have recently produced a Climate Change leaflet on behalf of Northumberland Wildlife Trust and Newcastle City Council. The project aims to increase sustainability at a local level, ensuring habitats and species are more able to adapt to changing climate in the future, and encouraging people and organisations to be more aware of their responsibilities to care for the natural world.
Click the link below to view our leaflet:
Our design team has also been very busy on a number of interpretation projects over the past few months, creating vibrant, high quality and durable interpretation panels. The panels are now in place at a number of locations including Northumberland Wildlife Trust nature reserves and local schools.
Posted on: Wednesday, February 29 2012
In line with our planned, strategic growth EcoNorth welcomes Miriam Baines as our new Principal Ecologist. Miriam joins us from Natural England where she has worked as a Lead Advisor for the past 10 years.
Miriam has a background in terrestrial ecology and has extensive knowledge of conservation law and management of designated sites and protected species, in particular the management of upland habitats. She is also experienced in advising on, and assessing Ecological Impact Assessments (EcIAs) for large planning applications involving a wide range of locally, nationally and internationally protected sites.
Miriamís skills will further extend our ecology consulting capability helping us provide an even better service for our clients.
Posted on: Monday, January 30 2012
EcoNorth ecologists have recently been commissioned by Northumberland Wildlife Trust to produce a detailed habitat management plan designed to help protect Northumberlands rare whin grassland.
Whin grassland is a species rich habitat found on the thin nutrient poor soils formed over whin sill rock (a tough quartz- dolerite igneous rock which underlies parts of North East England); this habitat has such a restricted distribution that it has been identified as a habitat of significant nature conservation importance by the Northumberland Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP).
Whin grassland habitat is currently in decline and areas of this habitat are threatened due to a combination of different factors including agricultural improvement, quarrying and poor grazing management.
Recent survey work has identified 57 positive indicator plant species which can be used to identify whin grassland. This habitat is a complex mixture of species, and there is no one specific vegetation type that occurs on whin sill soils which this makes it difficult to identify, understand and manage!
Management recommended includes carefully controlled grazing regimes and scrub removal. The management plan will assist conservationists and habitat managers in meeting their goals of maintaining existing sites, improving sites in poor condition and even to restore sites that have been lost.
Follow the link to view our completed management plan!
See the video link below for more information about the Whin grassland and its current management:
Posted on: Monday, August 1 2011
We are now well in to the bat survey season and our intrepid survey team have undertaken a record number of building inspections and surveys already. Projects include wind farms, schools, farm conversions, churches and pipelines across Northumberland, Tyneside, Cleveland, Cumbria and North Yorkshire. Catherine and Naomi had the delight of entering a common pipistrelle roost with 80 bats and Catherine has had the flip side when attending surveys with no bat action whatsoever, which is good news for the proposed wind farm, but slightly boring for her. We have even surveyed a very famous NE television landmark....more to follow at a later date! Finally, congrats to our ecologist, Mark Wilkinson, who now has a licence to disturb roosting bats, which means he can undertake a wide range of buildling checks improving our services even further.
Posted on: Wednesday, June 15 2011
EcoNorth is currently acting as Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW) on behalf of a number of clients to help ensure construction operations avoid impacting on protected wildlife, and to ensure statutory requirements are met, at a number of sites across the North East and Yorkshire.
Cestria Community Housing Association has employed EcoNorth to advise on the protection of breeding birds (and their nests) in relation to several major re-roofing exercises being undertaken around Chester-le-Street, Co Durham. The timing of the work could not avoid the breeding season and our ecologists have been assessing the potential for damage or destruction of nests whilst in use or being built. Working closely with the client, some changes to the roofing programme have been made and other works undertaken to ensure all legislation is complied with.
Work with another social housing provider in North Yorkshire has seen EcoNorth compile a method statement to protect great crested newts during the construction of new affordable rural housing. Our ecologists are undertaking regular site visits to ensure compliance with the method statement during key times of the year as agreed with the local authority.
Meanwhile, in South Shields we have provided design input, Code for Sustainable Homes ecological assessment and ECoW services on behalf of Four Housing Group in relation to a 21 dwelling carbon-negative social housing scheme. Work has involved identifying breeding birds using the site and advising the client on the timing and extent of site clearance operations in the light of these findings.
Finally, we are delighted to announce that we have just been appointed as ECoW by RWE Npower Renewables for the construction of an 18 turbine wind farm at Middlemoor in Northumberland. This appointment follows on from our post-consent survey and method statement work on the site completed in 2010.
Posted on: Monday, May 16 2011
Over the past month EcoNorth has further strengthened with the appointment of Catherine Taylor as an Assistant Ecologist and with Laura Black working as a Protected Species Associate.
Catherine joins us from Durham Biodiversity Data Service and will be helping out on a range of surveys and using her knowledge of GIS on some large scale mapping projects.
Laura has 13 years experience in both consultancy and as a Land Management and Conservation Advisor at Natural England concentrating on designated sites and protected species casework. She is especially knowledgeable in relation to bats and her understanding of the development licensing regime will be of great benefit to many of our clients.