Biodiversity Offsetting in England – Where Next?

Defra confirmed in July 2014 correspondence with BSG Ecology that, ‘there are no plans at this stage to announce a way forward on biodiversity offsetting’. We enquired about the status of offsetting further to the Green Paper that was out for consultation in 2013, and the subsequent completion of the six biodiversity offsetting pilot projects in April 2014. Defra also confirmed in their letter that ‘They [the offsetting pilot projects] will require several months of analysis before they can fully inform our thinking. The final report of the results of the pilot offset projects is not currently available; however we are committed to publishing it.’

External Entomology Training provided by BSG Ecology

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.

Chittering Leisler’s bats

BSG partner Dr Peter Shepherd has been closely involved with a bat box monitoring scheme in Sherwood Forest over the last 16 years.  Since monitoring began, the species recorded have regularly included  noctule,  Leisler’s, common and  soprano  pipistrelles ,  with occasional  brown  long-eared bat  and whiskered/Brandt’s bats being recorded.

Internal Training: Bat Identification and Survey Design

Bat identification is technically challenging, and to become proficient requires considerable experience and training.  Designing and undertaking robust bat surveys goes beyond identification, however, and requires an understanding of bat biology and ecology. For example, understanding the thermoregulatory needs of male, female or juvenile bats at different times of the year will enable a good surveyor to think about the sort of roosting conditions that bats will be seeking out at a given time. As such, a knowledgeable surveyor will adapt their survey to ensure all possible roost sites are considered.

BSG Ecology Bat Research in 2014

BSG Ecology has started work on a range of new research projects in 2014.  This article summarises progress to date on new bat research.

British Ornithologists’ Union Spring Conference 2014 – Ecology and Conservation of Birds in Upland and Alpine Habitats

John Baker, Senior Ecologist in BSG Ecology’s Oxford office attended the British Ornithologists’ Union (BOU) annual conference at the University of Leicester held between the 1st and 3rd April 2014.  This year’s theme was the ecology and conservation of birds in upland and alpine habitats. Speakers came from across Europe and North America and included researchers from universities, consultants and representatives of NGOs.

Dartford Warbler Research

BSG Ecology is currently providing technical support to MSc students under the tuition of Dr Penny Neyland and Dr Laura Roberts of Swansea University for their ornithological dissertations.

Owain Gabb, of BSG Ecology’s Swansea office, initially approached the University with ideas about studying aspects of Dartford warbler ecology and distribution on the Gower Peninsula in 2013.  Following some discussion with academic staff, the topic was put to students on the 2014 MSc Environmental Biology: Conservation and Resource Management course as a potential research area.

BCT Artificial Light and Wildlife Symposium 2014

Principal Ecologist Hannah Bilston and Senior Ecologist David Stiles attended the Artificial Light and Wildlife Symposium, organised by the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT), in March 2014. A wide range of professionals came together to discuss the impacts that humans have on wildlife by the increasing use of artificial light in the night time environment; to hear the latest research on the subject and to look at ways in which the impacts of lighting can be avoided or mitigated.

Maximising occupation of bat boxes

Since 2008 Hannah Bilston, Principal Ecologist, has been monitoring bat populations in Finemere Wood, an ancient woodland in Buckinghamshire. The project was initiated by the North Bucks Bat Group (NBBG) in 2003 and formed the study site for Hannah’s MSc research into factors affecting bat box selection within Finemere Wood between 2009 and 2011. More recently, Hannah has been investigating ways to maximise occupation rates of bat boxes by maternity roosts of woodland bats.

Prideaux v. Buckinghamshire County Council and FCC Environmental UK Limited EWHC 1054, April 2013

A recent high court judgment (Prideaux v. Buckinghamshire County Council and FCC Environmental UK Limited EWHC 1054, April 2013) provides useful clarification on a number of issues relating to wildlife law and policy, and in particular the interpretation of the law concerning European Protected Species and the consideration of satisfactory alternatives as one of the three derogation tests set out in Regulation 53(9) of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.

Oxford Toad Patrol

Laura Grant from BSG Ecology’s Oxford office noted a number of toad casualties on roads when she moved to the New Hinksey area of Oxford. Last year she trawled the streets in spring on mild damp evenings to move toads, frogs and smooth newts to the breeding lake out of harm’s way.