Our highly experienced ecologists have the skills, qualifications and licences to deliver on all ecological aspects of client projects across a wide variety of sectors.
W e offer practical advice on ecological constraints and opportunities, to help develop bespoke solutions that balance the needs of our clients with wildlife policy and law. With offices in Bristol and Gloucester with have exceptional ecological knowledge of the region and have excellent working relationships with the region’s Local Authorities and statutory organisations.
The team are able to react quickly to client demands, delivering timely and accurate ecological survey, site assessment and mitigation plans. We always keep our clients fully informed an in this way avoid any unnecessary delays to project timelines. In this way we ensure the best possible outcome for both the client and wildlife.
All our ecologists are all Full Members of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management and CSCS accredited.
What we do
EcIA and HRA
Ecological Impact Assessment & Habitat Regulations Assessment
EcIA is a process of identifying, quantifying and evaluating potential effects of development-related or other proposed actions on habitats, species and ecosystems and HRA is a process of assessing whether a proposed development will have a ‘Likely Significant Effect’ on European Sites. Wild Service have extensive experience of delivering both types of assessment.
EcIA can be used for the appraisal of projects of any scale. This can comprise the ecological component of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) or as a best practice evaluation process for smaller scale work. The findings of an EcIA help competent authorities understand ecological issues when determining applications for consent.
In cases where a proposed development may have significant effects on European Sites the relevant Authority is legally required to undertake a Habitats Regulations Assessment before it can determine the application. Where the integrity of these Sites is likely to be adversely affected the authority can refuse permission. Through early engagement with the design team we seek to demonstrably avoid such likely effect adaptation of design and the formulation of mitigation strategies.
The Wildlife Trusts’ Biodiversity Benchmark is the first recognised scheme to award business for continual biodiversity protection, improvement and enhancement.
This was set up to support the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) in order to help increase the contribution that businesses can make towards conserving biodiversity.
Wild Service provides advice in setting up a biodiversity management system to the required standard. As you would expect from a national leading conservation organisation, the Biodiversity Benchmark is independent and rigorous and difficult to achieve but delivers excellent outcomes for biodiversity.
Preliminary Ecological Appraisal
Following the relevant best practice guidelines Wild Service ecologists deliver the appropriate level of ecological survey for each individual project.
This can comprise desk studies, Extended Phase 1 Habitat Surveys, rapid walkover assessments and Initial Building Inspection for bats.
Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey
This type of survey records and maps broad habitat types based on their botanical composition. An assessment is also made for the potential of these habitats to support protected and notable species and the likely impacts of any proposed development.
Recommendations are made for any further surveys, such as protected species as well as for mitigation measures. An Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey can be carried out at any time of year, although the optimal time would be between April and September.
Protected Species Surveys and Mitigation Licence Application
A number of native species are protected by law, making it illegal to kill or disturb a protected species or damage its habitat.
Wild Service's experienced and licensed team of ecologists offer the complete range of ecological surveys to identify potential for or presence of protected species. If present we help our clients find practical and proportionate mitigations measures. We have extensive experience of the following species:
- Great crested newts
- Nesting birds
- Water voles
- White-clawed crayfish
For projects where the disturbance of protected species cannot feasibly be avoided it may be necessary to obtain a European Protected Species Licence (EPSL) for those species that are covered under European legislation (e.g. bats, great crested newts, dormice, otters) or Natural England licences to disturb or destroy a badger sett. Wild Service’s ecologists are highly experienced at delivering these licences and helping our clients through this process.
Where there are small numbers of the more frequently found species of bat (e.g. common & soprano pipistrelles), the Bat Mitigation Class Licence (BMCL) offers a quicker and simpler route to obtaining a licence. Only Registered Consultants can prepare these licences, and Elizabeth is a Registered Consultant for BMIC and has successfully applied for licences under this scheme.
BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Homes
All Wild Service’s ecologists are 'suitably qualified' (as per BRE guidelines) to carry out BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Homes Assessments.
Working closely with client project management and design teams, we help clients to maximise the number of available credits a project achieves. Unfortunately, even a well-considered, ecological design can score poorly on certain criteria, so good ecological advice is essential to avoid certain pitfalls in achieving the desired rating.
Wild Service’s ecologists have a high level of botanical expertise and knowledge of the region.
National Vegetation Classification (NVC) survey classifies and maps the vegetation communities within habitats and is therefore more precise than Phase 1 habitat survey in identifying areas of protected habitat. Wild Service ecologists have extensive experience of using the NVC for the purposes of development or conservation-related assessment and management.
A number of non-native species have been recognised as invasive and are listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. These include Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam, Rhododendron ponticum and various Cotoneaster species. Wild Service ecologists can rapidly survey sites to identify the presence of any of these species. Should any invasive plant species be identified we will produce a method statement for the schedule of works to ensure that the plants do not spread.
A critical component of most types of new development is the need for the preparation of a landscape and Ecological Management Plan.
Plans are increasingly requested by local authorities to demonstrate that biodiversity Issues have been addressed and that species protected by European Legislation will be safeguarded through all stages of a development. We work closely with designers and landscape architects to ensure newly created habitats and existing habitats are appropriately managed to maximise their biodiversity value. We also provide advice on the management of sites so as to reduce issues and constraints associated with protected species.
Wild Service have experience of producing habitat management plans for both the Avon and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust along with other conservation bodies.
Wild Service ecologists help to guide our clients through the planning process by offering bespoke mitigation, compensation and enhancement measures for each project.
In line with the National Planning Policy Framework we advise to follow the mitigation hierarchy. Our close working relationship with land managers allows us to recommend realistic and practical advice on overcoming ecological constraints on a site. We can also provide Reasonable Avoidance Method Statements (RAMS) where appropriate and full ecological clerk or works services.