The smooth snake is a very rare reptile and is sometimes an issue where development adjoins heathland habitats any animals are legally protected and a number of these are commonly encountered in development projects.

Ecology Services specialises in work involving protected species. We undertake field survey work, provide advice on wildlife legislation and can produce protected species mitigation strategies.

Our staff hold survey licences for all the regularly encountered species including bats, great crested newts, white-clawed crayfish and dormice.

We are experienced in acquiring wildlife development licences and in liasing with statutory and non-statutory agencies.

Further details on protected species and the services we offer can be found below.

Bats | Badgers | Water Voles | Dormice | Reptiles & great crested newts | Birds | Invertebrates

We are able to provide expert advice on other less commonly encountered species, please contact us direct for further details.

Bats

At least 16 species of bat are present in the British Isles. In the past century bats have suffered major population declines to the extent that some species are critically endangered.

Brown long-eared bats are inhabitants of various types of buildingsAll British bats are protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) and Schedule 2 of the Conservation Regulations (1994). This legislation makes it an offence to intentionally or deliberately kill, injure or capture bats; deliberately disturb bats or damage, destroy or obstruct access to bat roosts. The legal protection bats are afforded has recently been strengthened under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000).

Ecology Services has expertise in:

  • Bat roost surveys of trees, caves, buildings and other structures.
  • Habitat use and flight line surveys.
  • Development of mitigation measures where development proposals will impact on bats.
  • Wildlife Development Licence applications.
  • Development and implementation of bat box schemes.

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Badgers

Badgers are a member of the weasel family and are widespread throughout the British Isles. They are very social animals and in most instances live in social groups. Setts are usually dug into a suitably firm and free draining substrate and as a result are often located in steep banks and mounds. Badgers feed on a variety of items although earthworms are usually the most significant food item.

Badgers and their setts are fully protectedBadgers and their setts are protected under the Protection of Badgers Act (1992). A sett is defined as "any structure or place which displays signs indicating current use by a badger".

Work that disturbs badgers is illegal without a Wildlife Development Licence issued by English Nature or the Countryside Council for Wales.

Ecology Services has extensive experience of work involving badgers and is able to provide the following services:

  • Badger field surveys to identify setts, foraging areas, commuting routes and latrines.
  • Bait marking and territory mapping.
  • Sett closure and creation of artificial setts.
  • Acquisition of Wildlife Development Licences.

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Water Voles

The water voles riparian habitat is fully protectedThe water vole has suffered a massive decline in population over the last 20 years. It lives along river corridors, stream banks, ponds, canals and similar water bodies. It feeds entirely on bankside vegetation and lives in a system of tunnels it constructs in the waterside bank.

The water vole is included on Schedule 5 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981) but receives only partial protection in respect of Section 9 (4) only. This makes it an offence to damage, destroy or obstruct access to any structure that water voles use for shelter or protection. Under the act the animals themselves are not legally protected.

We offer a range of specialist services including:

  • Water vole surveys of rivers, streams, canals and ponds.
  • Production of water vole mitigation strategies.
  • Water vole habitat creation projects including the design of ponds and riparian habitat enhancement schemes.
  • Acquisition of Wildlife Development Licences.

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Dormouse

Hibernating dormouse found in an artificial nesting boxThe dormouse is a secretive nocturnal mammal most often associated with ancient woodlands and old hazel coppice. Dormice also use mature hedgerows especially when these are linked to suitable woodland habitats.

The dormouse is protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) and Schedule 2 of the Conservation Regulations (1994). This legislation makes it an offence to intentionally or deliberately kill, injure or capture a dormouse or destroy a dormouse breeding or resting site. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000) has strengthened the legal protection afforded to the dormouse.

We have experience in:

  • Dormice surveys of woodlands and hedgerows.
  • Development of dormouse mitigation schemes.
  • Development and implementation of dormouse nest box schemes.
  • Acquisition of Wildlife Development Licences.

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Reptiles & Great Crested Newts

Six species of reptile and six species of amphibian are native to the British Isles, in addition a number of introduced species also occur in some areas.

Common lizards can occur at enormous densities in favoured grassland habitats and are often encountered at development sites that support rank grasslandSlow-worm, common lizard, grass snake and adder are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) against intentional killing and injuring and against sale, but their habitat is not protected. If a proposed development is likely to have an impact on these reptiles the statutory nature conservation organisation must be consulted. The legal protection common reptiles are afforded has recently been strengthened under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000).

The very rare sand lizard and smooth snake receive 'full protection' under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) and the Conservation Regulations (1994). This means that they are protected from deliberate disturbance and the habitat in which they live is also fully protected against damage or destruction.

The great crested newt and natterjack toad also receive 'full protection' under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) and the Conservation Regulations (1994). This means that they are protected from deliberate disturbance, killing, injury or capture and their habitat, which includes breeding ponds, and terrestrial habitat is protected against damage or destruction.

We have considerable experience in working with reptiles and amphibians.

Our services include:

  • Reptile and great crested newt surveys.
  • Consulting and liasing with statutory nature conservation agencies.
  • Developing and implementing reptile and great crested newt mitigation strategies.
  • Obtaining Wildlife Development Licences where development is likely to impact on great crested newts, natterjack toads, smooth snakes or sand lizards.
  • Translocating reptiles and great crested newts (moving reptile and amphibian populations to new habitats).

For more detailed information on reptiles and amphibians and the survey and translocation process visit the web site of our sister company Herpetosurveys www.herpetosurveys.com

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Birds

This nuthatch was captured and ringed as part of a long term study into woodland birdsBirds are increasingly an issue at development sites. Rare species and flagship species targeted by the conservation organisations are now commonly raised as issues by local planning authorities, conservation organisations and members of the public.

The implications of disturbance on internationally protected sites such as Special Protection Areas (SPA) is an increasingly important issue for consideration on development projects which adjoin estuaries, heathlands and other important bird habitats.

With certain exceptions all wild birds and their eggs are protected from intentional killing, injuring and taking. Schedule 1 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981) is a list of the nationally rarer and uncommon breeding birds for which all offences carry greater penalties.

Ecology Services offers a full range of specialist bird surveys which can be utilised to suit individual project requirements, these include:

  • Common bird census.
  • Bird territory mapping.
  • Winter bird surveys.
  • Nesting bird surveys.
  • Habitat use studies.
  • Ringing studies.
  • Species specific surveys of rarer species such as barn owl, black redstart and cirl bunting.
  • Production of mitigation strategies including habitat enhancement projects and nest box schemes.
  • Surveys and assessment to establish likely impacts of increased disturbance on Special Protection Areas (SPA) as a result of new development.
  • Nest box schemes.

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Invertebrates

Marbled white butterflyInvertebrates are often used as indicators of habitat quality and many species are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) and the Conservation Regulations (1994).

Ecology Services is able to undertake surveys of terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates using a wide range of survey techniques.

Our services include:

  • Terrestrial and aquatic baseline surveys.
  • Assessment of invertebrate diversity and importance.
  • Development of invertebrate mitigation strategies and enhancement schemes.
  • White-clawed crayfish surveys and mitigation schemes.
  • Specialised and species specific surveys.

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