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The term refers to the inspection of trees for roosting bats. This inspection is normally done when potential roosting features have been identified on the preliminary bat roost assessment from the ground. During the aerial inspection, the surveyor (who will have a bat licence) climbs the tree and use an endoscope (a device with a screen connected to a long tube with a camera at the end) to check the inside of the tree trunk for roosting bats.
AIAs assess the potential impact of proposed developments on trees, to inform planning applications. Ecologists will make recommendations regarding which trees should be removed or retained, identify areas of conflict, and make recommendations for potential solutions.
An ASSI is the Northern Ireland equivalent of an SSSI. This is an area designated by Northern Ireland Environment Agency in order to protect the best examples of Northern Ireland’s flora, fauna, or geological or physiographical features.
AEECoW is the professional membership body for environmental and ecological clerks of work, developed with the aim of raising and maintaining the professional standards amongst those providing ECoW services.
BS3998 is the British standard which all arboriculturalists work to. It gives general recommendations for tree work, including management options for established trees and overgrown hedges.
BS5837 is the British standard which gives recommendations and guidance on the relationship between trees and design, demolition, and construction processes. It is a nationally recognised standard used by Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) to assess planning applications.
The Oxford English dictionary defines baselines as “a minimum or starting point used for comparisons”. In ecology, the term is often used to signify the description of the habitats and/or species found in an area prior to works.
The BCT works across many sectors to help those whose work brings them in contact with bats. They work to raise standards and advocate best practice, including the publication of Bat Surveys: Good Practice Guidelines, which is an essential reference guide for professional ecologists working with bats.
A BAP is an internationally recognised programme which originally derives from the Convention on Biological Diversity. The action plan programme allows governments and organisations to set out priority species and habitats for conservation action on areas under their remit and thus establish goals and targets for their protection.
According to Guide to the Convention on Biodiversity, “the principal elements of a BAP typically include: (a) preparing inventories of biological information for selected species or habitats; (b) assessing the conservation status of species within specified ecosystems; (c) creation of targets for conservation and restoration; and (d) establishing budgets, timelines and institutional partnerships for implementing the BAP”.
The BTO is an independent charity aimed at studying wildlife populations, particularly birds, to inform the public and policy decision-makers. Their volunteer surveys, such as the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), help to monitor changes in bird populations across the UK.
BREEAM is a sustainability assessment method, which measures sustainable value in a series of categories, ranging from energy to ecology. Each of these categories addresses the most influential factors including low impact design and carbon emissions reduction, design durability and resilience, adaption to climate change, and ecological value and biodiversity protection. Within every category, developments score points – called credits – for achieving targets, and their final total determines their rating.
CIEEM is a professional membership body that represents and supports ecologists and environmental managers. Among other things the organisation establishes and upholds standards of professional competence and conduct of those who practice ecological and environmental management as a profession, as well as promoting the sharing of best practices in the sector. As such, they require members to adhere to standards of knowledge and professionalism and undertake continuing professional development.
The Oxford English dictionary defines compensation as “something that counterbalances or makes up for an undesirable or unwelcome state of affairs”. In terms of ecology, the word is normally used to mean a trade-off where the losses to wildlife are offset by the creation of wildlife opportunities of at least equal value. For example, creating a new pond should you need to destroy one for a development.
A conservation area is a place protected against undesirable changes due to its notable environmental or historical interest. These are chiefly designated by Local Authorities.
ECoW are consultants who work with companies on site, helping them to follow wildlife legislation and providing advice on compliance with the environmental planning conditions. This can include monitoring protected species and habitats, possible river and land pollution or auditing site activities, always with the goal of working collaboratively to find pragmatic solutions to any issues faced.
Like an EIA, an EcIA is a tool used to identify the impact of a project prior to the decision-making, the difference being that an EcIA focuses on the impact on wildlife. The EcIA is often part of the EIA process.
Ecology is a branch of biology (the study of life) which is concerned with the study of organisms (animals, plants, fungi and other living things) and how they interact with one another and their environment. This includes the investigation of the distribution and abundance of organisms and understanding how they affect one another, their environment and, most often in ecological consultancy, how they are affected by human activity.
The Oxford English dictionary defines enhancement as “an increase or improvement in quality, value, or extent.” In terms of ecology, this normally means an increase in the ecological value of a site or improvement in the quality of a habitat.
The aim of Environmental Impact Assessment is to protect the environment by ensuring that a local planning authority when deciding whether to grant planning permission for a project, which is likely to have significant effects on the environment, does so in the full knowledge of the likely significant effects, and takes this into account in the decision making process. The regulations set out a procedure for identifying those projects which should be subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment, and for assessing, consulting and coming to a decision on those projects which are likely to have significant environmental effects. The second aim is to ensure that the public are given early and effective opportunities to participate in the decision making procedures.
The process of Environmental Impact Assessment in the context of town and country planning in England is governed by the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017 (the ‘2017 Regulations’). These regulations apply to development which is given planning permission under Part III of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. These regulations apply the amended EU directive “on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment” (usually referred to as the ‘Environmental Impact Assessment Directive’) to the planning system in England.
The EPSML is a type of licence obtained from Natural England in order to undertake actions which are otherwise illegal and will impact on European protected species. For example, if bats are known to roost on a building a company wishes to demolish, that company will require a EPSML. The application for a EPSML will require a method statement and a reason statement in order to ensure that no long-term harm is done to the conservation of the species.
The extended phase 1 habitat survey, like the phase 1 habitat survey, classifies habitats using the JNCC standards. It is called ‘extended’ because the survey includes a search for protected species and signs.
GIS are mapping tools which allow us to capture, store, manipulate, analyse, manage and present spatial or geographic data. There are a number of types of GIS software which allow us to present spatial or geographic data in maps, thus aiding our analysis and understanding of species distribution, patterns, and trends.
Habitat is usually defined as the natural environment of an organism. Simply put, it is the home of any living thing. For example, when referring to a bat’s habitat, this include the roosts (in trees and buildings) where they sleep and care for the young, the places where they eat (such as watercourses, forests, and street lights) and the hedgerows and tree lines where they commute.
Natural England states that: “In accordance with the Habitats Regulations, all competent authorities, including Natural England, must undertake a formal assessment of the implications of any new plan or project which is capable of affecting the designated interest features of European Sites before deciding whether to undertake, permit or authorise such a plan or project”.
The HSI is used to measure the suitability of ponds for great crested newts. Ten factors, including location, pond area and water quality, are measured, scored and used to calculate an overall score between 0 and 1. In general, ponds with higher HSI scores are more likely to support great crested newts than those with low scores. HSI assessments can be used to establish the need for further surveys or assess the suitability of receptor ponds in proposed mitigation schemes.
The Hedgerow Regulations 1997 are intended to protect important countryside hedgerows from destruction or damage in England and Wales.
ISO 18001, also known as OHSMS, is an international standard for health and safety and sets out good practices in occupational health and safety. Having such an accreditation certifies that the company meets the standard for management systems, planning and risk assessment, staff training and awareness, communication of safety management systems, response to emergency situations, monitoring and continual improvement.
ISO 19001 is an international standard for quality of business management. Having the ISO19001 certification means that a company meets good quality management principles required to achieve it, including strong customer focus, good lines of communication throughout the company, quality assurance procedures and continual improvement.
The Oxford English dictionary defines inspection as “careful examination or scrutiny”. In ecology, it usually refers to the examination of trees and habitats.
The JNCC is a public body which advises the UK Government and other administrations on UK-wide and international nature conservation. Its work contributes to maintaining and enriching biological diversity, conserving geological features and sustaining natural systems.
This is a legal document required in order to undertake actions which will otherwise be illegal. A licence relating to actions which affect wildlife is usually obtained from Natural England. Licences can be broadly divided in two groups. The first type is a Wildlife Licence which ecologists require to carry out their work. It gives permission to disturb and capture a particular protected species (such as bats, great crested newts, tawny owls) for the purpose of survey or research and is given on the basis on the ecologist’s experience and knowledge of the species as well as character references. The second type of licence is given for a particular project (such as building, demolishing or refurbishing a site) which will hurt a protected species. This is held by an ecologist who is required to present a method of mitigating the damage done to the species (for more information, see EPSML – European Protected Species Mitigation Licence).
LBAPs set out priority species and habitats for conservation at a local level. They are produced by groups of collaborators who work together to conserve, enhance and promote biodiversity in the local area.
The Oxford English dictionary defines a management plan as “a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something”. In ecology, this usually refers to plans for creating and/or taking care of one or more habitats. For example, the management plan for a wildflower meadow will include the species mix to be planted as well as a recommendation on the upkeep of the flower meadow in the future.
According to JNCC: “The purpose of MNRs is to conserve marine flora and fauna and geological features of special interest, while providing opportunities for study of marine systems. They are a mechanism for the protection of nationally important marine (including subtidal) areas. Their designation requires the agreement of statutory and voluntary bodies and interest groups”.
Mitigation is simply the act of reducing a negative impact, normally to a natural resource in ecology. This is often done by creating new habitats or improving the current one.
According to JNCC: “NNRs contain examples of some of the most important natural and semi-natural terrestrial and coastal ecosystems in Great Britain. They are managed to conserve their habitats or to provide special opportunities for scientific study of the habitats, communities and species represented within them. In addition, they may be managed to provide public recreation that is compatible with their natural heritage interests.
NNRs are declared by the statutory country conservation agencies under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. In Northern Ireland, Nature Reserves are designated under the Amenity Lands Act (Northern Ireland) 1965. In Scotland, whilst SNH remains the statutory designating authority, decisions to declare new NNR are shared with a Partnership Group of interested organisations.”
The NERC places a duty on public bodies to consider and conserve biodiversity through the exercise of their functions and includes a range of measures to strengthen the protection of both habitats and wildlife. The Act makes provision in respect of biodiversity, pesticides harmful to wildlife, protection of birds and invasive non-native species.
Offsetting involves the use of conservation activities to give biodiversity benefits to compensate for losses. This may involve, for example, the creation of new sites for nature if a development will cause unavoidable damage. Offsetting can aid developers in fulfilling their obligations under the planning system’s mitigation hierarchy.
The phase 1 habitat survey is a standardised system which aims to relatively rapidly record the overall vegetation and classify wildlife habitats using the JNCC definitions. The data collected in this survey is used to map an area under consideration based on the habitats present. This is a useful tool as it records the area’s baseline and can help inform the need for further survey.
A PRF is simply any feature on a tree or building (usually cracks, crevices and holes) which a bat may use as a roost or to access a roost (for example, a gap which will give a bat access into the loft where it can roost).
Previously referred to as a bat risk assessment, the PBRA classifies a structure or tree as having a negligible, low, moderate or high suitability for supporting roosting bats, based on factors such as the presence of potential access routes suitable for use by bats and any field signs recorded. The classification will decide whether bat activity surveys are required.
The PEA is an initial assessment of a site which establishes the overall baseline conditions and evaluates the need for further surveys.
A protected species is an organism (usually animals and plants) protected from harm by law and thus requiring special care. The protection for such species often goes beyond just preventing the killing of the species and can include damage or loss of habitat, disturbance, removal and transport, among other things. For more information look at our legislation summary.
RBAPs set out priority species and habitats for conservation at a regional level. They are produced by groups of collaborators who work together to conserve, enhance and promote biodiversity in the region.
According to the Bat Conservation Trust, a roost is the place where a bat lives. “Bats need different roosting conditions at different times of the year and they will often move around to find a roost that meets their needs. Some bats prefer hollow trees, some like caves and some use both at different times. Many bats shelter in buildings, behind hanging tiles and boarding or in roof spaces. For several weeks in summer, female bats gather in a maternity roost to have their babies. In winter, bats use hibernation roosts. Bats have been discovered roosting in all sorts of places but there are three broad roost types that are most common: in trees, built structures and underground sites. Bats may also roost in bat boxes.”
Schedule 1 lists all birds which are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), by special penalties relating to disturbance at their nests or of their dependent young.
The Habitat Regulations make it an offence to deliberately capture, kill, disturb, or trade those animals listed under Schedule 2.
The Habitats Regulations make it an offence to pick, cut, uproot, collect, destroy or trade in those plants listed under Schedule 4.
Schedule 5 lists animals (other than birds) which are specially protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). This makes it an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take any wild animal listed, and prohibits interference with places used for shelter or protection, or intentionally disturbing animals occupying such places.
Schedule 8 lists plants (vascular plants, bryophytes, lichens and fungi) which are specially protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).
Schedule 9 lists all non-native species of plants and animals which are prohibited from release in England and Wales, under The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).
According to the UK government, “Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) are protected by law to conserve their wildlife or geology”. They are designated by statutory country nature conservation agencies (Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural Resources Wales) in order to protect the best examples of the UK's flora, fauna, or geological or physiographical features.
According to the JNCC: “SACs are designated under the EC Habitats Directive. The Directive applies to the UK and the overseas territory of Gibraltar. SACs are areas which have been identified as best representing the range and variety within the European Union of habitats and (non-bird) species listed on Annexes I and II to the Directive. SACs in terrestrial areas and territorial marine waters out to 12 nautical miles are designated under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended). Beyond 12 nautical miles they are designated under the Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 2007 (as amended). SACs are one of six designations contributing to our ecologically coherent network of marine protected areas.
Sites which have been submitted to the European Commission by Government, but not yet formally adopted by the Commission, are referred to as candidate Special Areas of Conservation (cSACs). Sites which have been adopted by the EC, but not yet formally designated by governments of Member States are known as Sites of Community Importance (SCIs). In the UK, designation of SACs is devolved to the relevant administration within each country. In UK offshore waters JNCC is responsible for identification and recommendation to Government of SACs.
SACs, together with SPAs and Ramsar sites form the Natura 2000 network.”
According to the JNCC: “SPAs are classified by the UK Government under the EC Birds Directive. The Directive applies to the UK and the overseas territory of Gibraltar. SPAs are areas of the most important habitat for rare (listed on Annex I to the Directive) and migratory birds within the European Union. SPAs in terrestrial areas and territorial marine waters out to 12 nautical miles are classified under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and beyond 12 nautical miles are designated under the Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 2007 (as amended).
There are many different types of survey but, in ecology, a survey generally refers to the act of examining and recording an area or a building features, in order to report conditions and usually construct a plan.
The ARC is a wildlife charity which promotes the conservation of herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians) in the UK. ARC develops and promotes guidance on managing habitats for amphibians and reptiles, such as the Great Crested Newt Conservation Handbook.
The AA is a professional membership body for all those working in the arboricultural sector, providing professional standards, training, support and recognition for its members. The AA prides itself in being the leading voice in all arboricultural matter in the UK. They aim to support the sustainable management of trees for, the benefit of Society, through our members and close collaboration with allied professions. They work towards this aim by: inspiring society to understand the value of amenity trees; influencing decision makers to value, secure, fund and promote amenity trees and; improving the understanding of trees and their environment.
The Habitat Regulations 2010 transpose Council Directive 79/409/EEC on the Protection of Wild Birds (the EC Birds Directive 1979) and Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Flora and Fauna (the EC Habitats Directive 1992) into UK law. The Birds Directive was amended in 2009, becoming Directive 2009/147/EC.
The Habitat Regulations 2010 make it an offence (with certain exceptions) to deliberately capture, disturb, kill or trade in those animal species listed in Schedule 2, or to pick, cut, uproot, collect, destroy or trade in those plant species listed in Schedule 4.
The EC Birds Directive requires member states to establish and monitor Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for all rare or vulnerable species included in Annex I, as well as for all regularly occurring migratory species, with key focus on wetlands of international importance. Annex I and II of the Habitats Directive respectively list those habitats and species for which a similar network of sites – Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) – must be established and monitored. Collectively, SPAs and SACs form a network of pan-European protected areas which are referred to as ‘Natura 2000’ sites.
The Bern Convention was adopted in 1979 and ratified by the UK Government in 1982. The principal aims of the Convention are to ensure the conservation and protection of all wild plant and animal species and their natural habitats (listed in Appendices I and II), to increase cooperation between contracting parties, and to afford special protection to the most vulnerable or threatened species (including migratory species).
Members of the European Community meet their obligations via the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive. These are transposed into UK law by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 (as amended), Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985, and the Nature Conservation and Amenity Lands (Northern Ireland) Order 1985.
The CRoW, which applies to England and Wales only, strengthens the provisions of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), both in respect to protected species and statutory ecological sites, the latter primarily relating to the management and protection of SSSIs. It also provides for better management of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).
The Act places a statutory obligation on public bodies to further the conservation of biodiversity through the exercise of their functions, thereby providing a statutory basis to the Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) process. Section 74 of the Act lists those habitats and species of principal importance in England.
The Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 places a duty on public bodies to conserve biodiversity, increases protection for SSSIs (including providing for Land Management Orders on SSSIs and associated land), strengthens wildlife enforcement legislation and amends legislation on Nature Conservation Orders. The Act requires Scottish Ministers to designate one or more strategies for the conservation of biodiversity (the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy) and to publish lists of species and habitats of principal importance.
The Protection of Badgers Act 1992 consolidates the existing legislation relating to the protection of badgers and makes it an office in England and Wales to wilfully kill, injure or take a badger (or attempt to do so) and affords protection to both the animals themselves and their setts.
This Act provides protection for wild mammals from acts of cruelty, primarily via preventing hunting wild mammals with dogs.
The UKBAP is the government’s response to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Published in 1994, it identifies the nation’s most endangered habitats and species and sets out means of aiding their recovery so as to contribute to the UK’s progress towards a significant reduction in biodiversity loss called for by the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996 provides protection for wild mammals from acts of cruelty. An offence is committed if any person mutilates, kicks, beats, nails, or otherwise impales, stabs, burns, stones, crushes, drowns, drags or asphyxiates any wild mammal with intent to inflict unnecessary suffering.
A Tree Constraints Plan (TCP) is a site plan which includes the existing buildings, the proposed development and any trees present on site. TCPs accompany AIAs in supporting planning applications.
A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is an order made by a Local Planning Authority to protect trees and woodlands, in the interests of amenity (i.e. if their removal will have a significant negative impact on the local environment and its enjoyment by the public). TPOs prohibit the cutting down, topping, lopping, uprooting and wilful damage or destruction of trees, without the LPA’s written consent.
Tree surveys are carried out by arboriculturalists, to provide landowners with information on the trees on their land, including the species present, their ages, measurements and overall health. This information can then be used to make recommendations and inform decision-making regarding management and development. Tree surveys should be carried out in accordance with BS5837.
The UKBAP Species prioritise species that have been identified as being the most threatened and requiring conservation action under the UKBAP.
A walk over survey is an initial assessment of a site in order to evaluate the overall conditions and need for further surveys, based on which species the habitat is likely to support.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act consolidates and amends existing national legislation to implement the requirements of the Bern Convention and the Birds Directive throughout Great Britain. The Act is the primary UK mechanism for the designation of statutory ecological sites - Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) - and the protection of individual species listed under Schedules 1, 2, 5, 6 and 8 of the Act, each of which is subject to varying levels of protection.
Schedule 9 of the Act also lists those plant species which it is an offence to plant or otherwise cause to grow in the wild, while Schedule 14 prevents the release into the wild or sale of certain plant and animal species which may cause ecological, environmental or socio-economic harm.
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Introducing the man of the hour our Principal Ecologist John Thompson! After helping EcoNorth to win the Community Engagement award at the BIG Biodiversity Challenge Awards for the work on the Morpeth Northern Bypass in 2016; John’s blog about the project is now being featured in the BIG Challenge website! In his first ever blog John explains that “The daunting reality of working …