In September 2011 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 field site near Ramsgate in Kent. Planning permission had been granted for the development of a Waste Management Facility in July 2011 and two conditions attached to the permission required the translocation of lizard orchid and other orchid species in accordance with the approved Conservation Management Plan for the site.
Planning and implementing a translocation methodology
The first priority was to clarify the legal situation, given that lizard orchid is protected under Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (plants on this list include some of the rarest in Britain). Following consultation with Natural England it was determined that in this case a licence was not required, but all reasonable measures to protect the species would be needed.
A translocation method statement was then prepared, taking into account the conditions on site and BSG’s past experience of translocating southern marsh orchid, bee orchid and common spotted orchid on other brownfield sites. We 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 species on site. The methodology was approved by the planning authority and in November 2011 we supervised the cutting and translocation of turves. The work was undertaken using standard, non-specialist machinery operated by the clients’ own skilled staff.
First year monitoring
The planning consent and the approved translocation methodology require the monitoring of the translocation for a period of five years; the first year was in June 2012. The turves have settled in well and eight flowering spikes of lizard orchid were recorded (the same number recorded in the original survey). In addition 50 flowering spikes of southern marsh orchid were recorded. There was little evidence of weed invasion and the gaps between turves had been colonised and were not noticeable within the sward.
Factors contributing to the successful translocation of lizard orchids include:
(a) A site-specific, carefully planned translocation methodology, based on a detailed understanding of the ecological requirements of the target species.
(b) Supervision of the work by an experienced, specialist plant ecologist who can provide advice and make decisions on site during the translocation process.
(c) Implementation using standard machinery under careful supervision and carried out by skilled machine operators.
If you would like to discuss this project in more detail please contact Dr Peter Shepherd.
Oxford Office: 01865 883833