Whether it is an existing site in need of expert advice and recommendations, or a development site requiring assessment of its ecological importance and creation of a suitable landscaping scheme, we have the knowledge and experience to help.
The ecological and landscape value of developments are increasingly important aspects of the planning process, and require much more than just selecting a few well-intentioned trees and shrubs to add in to a development.
These subjects must be considered from the outset and we provide a range of services to ensure your responsibilities are met:
Ecological Surveys and Biodiversity Reports
Also known as Preliminary Ecological Assessments (PEA). This involves surveying and mapping a site in terms of vegetation and habitat types, and is carried out in accordance with the JNCC’s nationally accepted guidance. These assessments are now regularly requested by planning authorities as part of the planning application process.
We have the knowledge and skills to carry out the baseline ecological surveys, including desk studies, Phase 1 surveys, and Extended Phase 1 Habitat surveys.
Landscaping and Tree Planting Plans
There is commonly a condition within the planning permission requiring an acceptable level of post-development landscape and tree planting, as well as written schedules for on-going care and maintenance for both new and existing planting. With our experience and knowledge we can ensure the right species are chosen for the site to create a sustainable landscaping scheme.
We provide the planting plans, site preparation/planting details, and maintenance schedules for existing and newly planted trees.
As a European Protected Species, any development where there is a reasonable likelihood of dormice being present and affected by the development will require a survey by a suitably experienced and licensed ecologist. Dormice are found in a variety of habitats including deciduous woodlands, hedgerows, scrub, and occasionally rural gardens.
The Isle of Wight and Southern England is important for supporting good populations of this small and elusive mammal, and we have the necessary licence, knowledge and experience to be able to carry out surveys to determine whether they are present and therefore likely to be affected by a development. A report can then be produced as required by the local authority to explain the likely impacts and possible mitigation measures required to accompany the development proposal.
There are six native species of reptile in the UK: adder, common lizard, grass snake, slow-worm, sand lizard and smooth snake. The first four species are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000. Whilst protection is not extended to their habitat, damage to it may result in an offence if suitable mitigation measures are not implemented. Smooth snake and sand lizard and their habitat are afforded full protection under UK and European legislation, including The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.
The implications for proposed development works are that any activities should not result in the death or injury of individual reptiles should they occur on site (and also habitat damage or loss in the case of smooth snake and sand lizard). Measures to provide for reptiles individual protection will need to be put in place if they are found to be present and also replacement habitat for smooth snake and sand lizard. The presence of a protected species such as reptiles on a proposed development site can be a major constraint. To avoid possible costly delays and alterations to design plans we recommend protected species surveys such as reptile surveys are carried out at the earliest opportunity.
The following scenarios would likely trigger the need for a reptile survey:
- the proposed development site provides potentially suitable habitat (such as rank grassland, scrub and waterbodies)
- the desk study data reveals there are previous reptile records for the site and/or within the study area.
Habitat Assessments of Trees
We can carry out ecological evaluations of trees, which are particularly relevant for mature or veteran trees and traditional orchards, and for trees in close proximity to ancient woodland and other habitats of high ecological value. Bats are especially relevant when considering ecological assessments of trees, with 13 of the 17 native bat species known to roost in trees. Any tree can be used as a bat roost, as long as it provides shelter, e.g. in the form of splits, cracks, holes and cavities in the trunk and branches, loose bark and ivy cover. We have specific knowledge to carry out an assessment of Bat Roost Potential for any tree prior to arranging tree surgery or as part of the planning process.
As an important landscape feature, rural hedgerows are subject to protection under the Hedgerow Regulations 1997. This makes it illegal to remove most hedgerows or sections of hedgerows in the countryside without first applying for and receiving consent from the local authority. Hedgerow surveys based on the Regulations may also be required as part of the planning process for developments. Whatever the reason, we can offer advice and assessment of your hedgerows to ascertain whether they meet the criteria as “Important” in terms of the Regulations, and we also offer management advice for maximising their wildlife potential and how best to integrate them into existing or planned land use.
Parkland Management Plans
Parklands and Wood-pastures are the products of historic land management systems and designed landscapes, often supporting large open grown over-mature and veteran trees. Such sites are often of historic, cultural, ecological and landscape importance. In order to maintain or restore the character of these sites, especially if part of a stewardship scheme, a management plan will need to be prepared which details management of the trees and the land use surrounding them. With our experience of land management and knowledge of this habitat, we would be very happy to assist with such a project.