Mitigation and Management

As reported by the BBC on 7 November 2016, a Government review of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) estate has concluded that ninety-one sites covering an area of approximately 32,500 acres will be released. This will result in running cost savings for the MoD, and free up land that has the potential to deliver up to 55,000 new homes.
The Great Crested Newt Low Impact Class Licence follows on from the Bat Low Impact Class Licence that was introduced by Natural England in 2015. The purpose of the Bat Low Impact Class Licence is to help reduce the licensing burden for projects which impact on low conservation status roosts supporting small numbers of bats of specific species.
In this, the first of a series of articles with regard to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones), BSG Ecology Partner Steve Betts outlines some of the opportunities for ecologists that they present, but also outlines regulatory requirements that need to be considered ahead of commercial use.
BSG Ecology recently attended two events in London focussing on biodiversity, planning and the environment. There are many changes taking place in this area of our work and these events proved useful in keeping us up to date on current thinking and practice and on potential future changes to how biodiversity is addressed through the planning system.
Since the year 2000, when publication of Frans Vera’s book ‘Grazing Ecology and Forest History’ stimulated debate about what our ancient landscapes would have looked like, interest in the concept of rewilding has grown. The book was followed in 2005 by Peter Taylor’s wildland strategy for the UK in his book ‘Beyond Conservation’ in which he set out a way forward for rewilding or restoring and repairing the damaged and truncated natural processes that once shaped our habitats and landscape.
In April 2016 staff from around the practice assembled at our Oxford office for specialist training on badger survey, mitigation and monitoring. The training was delivered by Penny Lewns of Protected Species Ecology. Penny has over twenty five years of experience working with badgers and development and has authored publications on the status of the badger in Britain, techniques for surveying badgers, monitoring populations and estimating the impact of past persecution on the numbers of badgers. She has held 400 badger licences across the UK, and is one of the most experienced badger specialists in the country.
Invertebrates are by far the most biodiverse organisms in our ecosystems but receive proportionately little legal protection or conservation priority when compared to more widely-studied groups such as mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles.
In this article we consider the use of eDNA analysis of water samples to detect great crested newts, and discuss the results of some recent survey work.  Whilst we identify limitations that need to be considered, it is also recognised that the technique provides a useful additional method for detecting great crested newts, and we use it in appropriate circumstances at sites throughout the UK.  The method has been endorsed by Natural England and Natural Resources Wales.
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.’
Working in conjunction with Hanson Aggregates Ltd and the RSPB, BSG Ecology staff have created an otter holt at a gravel pit in Oxfordshire. The site has been chosen by the RSPB as a Nature After Minerals case study site, and is in the process of restoration.