BSG Ecology was appointed by the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and the London Borough of Croydon to carry out surveys of 29 schools as part of the Government’s ‘Building Schools for the Future’ (BSF) programme. The work required at each of these schools ranged from minor maintenance work to complete demolition. BSG Ecology was required to deliver a flexible and cost effective ecology survey package at very short notice.
BSG Ecology undertook a desk study of existing ecological information and a Phase 1 habitat survey of each of the school grounds, including an assessment of the potential for protected or priority species to be supported by the habitats and buildings present. A daytime external inspection was undertaken of all buildings within each of the school grounds, for features that could potentially be used by roosting bats and a search was made for any evidence of their presence. A report was produced for each school, detailing the key ecological issues that would need to be taken into consideration in advance of construction or demolition work. Recommendations were also made for further targeted surveys as necessary; involving bat emergence and re-entry surveys.
The surveys for all 29 schools were completed and reported upon within a month of being commissioned. This required efficient survey organisation and co-ordination . For a number of schools, access was only possible outside of school hours; many of the other schools required surveyors to be accompanied throughout their visit. A team of three surveyors spent an intensive week at the 29 school sites across the two boroughs and successfully completed the programme within the required time period.
The schools varied greatly in their ecological value and ecological potential. Many schools were in urban locations, with limited green space, whereas others were set in extensive grounds supporting valuable ecological habitats such as ponds and woodland. As well as the bat potential that was recorded within buildings, trees and other structures, the surveys uncovered sites with potential opportunities for an invertebrate – the stag beetle Lucanus cervus, a UK and London Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species, in the woodland and dead wood habitats of the more extensive school grounds.
The project required a quick response to mobilise a dedicated team and was delivered to time, on budget, and within the ecological baseline and interpretation required by the client to move the BSF programme forward.