BSG Ecology has been growing its in-house and associate invertebrate advisory team over the last two years. Our team is led by Dr Jim Fairclough and we have four specialist invertebrate ecologists, and several other staff with more general invertebrate experience.
As well as providing advice to clients on planning-related issues, Jim is also a passionate trainer of ecologists and the wider public. In May 2014, Jim was at Withymead Nature Reserve, providing an insight into aquatic life, through a series of classroom and outdoor sessions.
Withymead Nature Reserve is managed by the Anne Carpmael Charitable Trust . It is bordered by the River Thames, and includes a series of oxbows and ditches, as well as ponds and a flowing ditch to the north of the reserve. Each of these provided a different ecological niche and hunting grounds for the field element of the course.
The course was well attended by a broad range of people from different backgrounds, and a good range of subject matter was captured and identified: at least twelve different species of beetle, several different species of aquatic bug, dragonfly nymphs, caddis fly larvae and various snails were noted. Perhaps the most impressive find, certainly in terms of size, were the large swan mussels which are present in good numbers in the River Thames.
Aquatic invertebrates are presently of particular interest to the wardens at Withymead. A study is currently being organised to investigate the flora and fauna of a parcel of flood meadow to the north of the reserve. Funds are being raised for the acquisition of this land, so surveys will be important in guiding future habitat management proposals across the site, including this northern extension. Funds generated from the course will help fund investment in equipment for the education centre at the reserve .
Why invertebrates are relevant
This is the first externally provided entomology training session that BSG Ecology has offered. It is our intention to offer additional training sessions from time to time. On a practical level, training encourages increased awareness of invertebrates, their ecology and their significance in the planning process.
Our team works with clients to address reasonable survey and assessment requirements for key invertebrate groups, including Species of Principal Importance in development design. With almost 400 invertebrate species on the “Species of Principal Importance” list produced in response to Sections 41 (England) and 42 (Wales) of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (NERC Act) 2006, these invertebrates are capable of being material considerations within the planning process. The NERC Act confers a “biodiversity duty” on local authorities and other public bodies to have regard to the conservation of biodiversity in England & Wales, when carrying out their normal functions – including planning.
Early consideration of invertebrates during a project from scoping and initial field surveys throughout the life of a project can make it easier to demonstrate to local planning authorities that the “biodiversity duty” has been given due consideration in the planning process.
If you would like to know more about our terrestrial and freshwater entomology services, please contact Jim Fairclough in our Oxford office.
An album from the training day is on our Facebook Site.