BSG Ecology was commissioned to prepare and implement a method statement for the translocation of a small population of lizard orchid Himantoglossum hircinum on a brownfield site near Ramsgate, Kent.
Planning permission had been granted for the development of a Waste Management Facility on the site and two conditions attached to the permission required the translocation of the orchids. The approach had been set out in a Conservation Management Plan for the site.
Lizard orchid is afforded legal protection under Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended); plants on this list include some of the rarest species in Britain. Following consultation with Natural England it was determined that in this case a licence was not required, but measures would be needed to protect the species.
A translocation method statement was then prepared, taking into account the conditions on site and BSG Ecology’s experience of translocation of other orchid species on brownfield sites. BSG also held discussions with a number of specialist contractors about the most effective techniques for turf and plant translocation under the existing site conditions, and took account of research into the ecology of the orchid present. The method was approved by the planning authority and BSG oversaw the cutting and translocation of turves on site. The work was undertaken using standard, non-specialist machinery operated by the clients’ own (appropriately skilled) staff.
The planning consent and the approved translocation method required the monitoring of the lizard orchid population for a period of five years. Over the first three years of monitoring the site has continued to support lizard orchid, with a peak count of fifteen flowering spikes. In addition, two other species of orchid were recorded, southern marsh orchid Dactylorhiza praetermissa and pyramidal orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis.
- Factors contributing to the successful translocation of lizard orchids included:
- A site-specific, carefully planned translocation methodology, based on a detailed understanding of the ecological requirements of the species.
- Supervision of the work by an experienced, specialist plant ecologist who provided advice and made decisions on site during the translocation process.
- Implementation using standard machinery under careful supervision and carried out by skilled machine operators.
- Management of the receptor area to ensure the maintenance of suitable conditions for the species based on a plan that is flexible enough to respond to the results of monitoring.
The monitoring is ongoing.