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Are you looking for an ecological survey? As one of the leading ecological consultants in the UK, Indigo Surveys is proud of our long-standing tradition of providing ecology surveys to a consistently high standard, and for a wide variety of clients. Our team of qualified and licensed ecologists specialise in the assessment of a wide range of habitats and provides guidance on ecological and protected species matters to customers around the UK.
We are adaptive to each project and experienced in using recognised survey techniques and methodologies to deal with all issues relating to ecology. Our proactive approach to ecology consultancy allows for early advice to be sought and for a tailored programme of work to be established, to address the site-specific survey needs.
What is an Ecological Survey?
There is a wide scope of different assessments which constitute an Ecological Survey, these span from basic Ecological Scoping Surveys to more specific and detailed NVC (National Vegetation Classification), Hedgerow, Botanical, River Corridor, Protected Species, Invasive Plant Species and Ecological Assessments.
The most commonly accepted initial and baseline Ecological Assessment, however, is a Phase 1 Habitat Survey which includes the study, identification and mapping of important wildlife habitats. This allows for an assessment of a site’s ecological importance and significant habitat features (property, plot of land, established boundary area) and informs the necessity for additional survey work.
Get in touch for an ecological survey today. Otherwise, read on for a breakdown of the different surveys that are featured within an ecological survey, should they be required.
A breakdown of the different surveys within Ecology Surveys
The following will be a breakdown of the many different sub-categories of ecological surveys that you may have to take depending on the findings of your preliminary ecological appraisal, which is the first step of your ecological surveys. They are carried out to identify ecological constraints.
Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) – Phase 1 Habitat Survey
What is a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA)?
This is technically the only mandatory step in the entire Ecological Survey.
A Phase 1 Habitat Survey, or Preliminary Ecological Appraisal, is a biologist’s first look at an area’s ecological landscape. Think of it as nature’s ID card, showing what habitats and species are present. In a nutshell, an expert walks through an area, noting the plants, possible wildlife, and the general health of the environment. Our experienced survey work will capture and detail what does, what does not, and what may exist within the region.
Why take a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal?
To put it simply, it helps us make smart choices. Whether we’re planning a new building or protecting wildlife, this survey gives us essential info, helping us balance progress with nature preservation. Essentially, this will be foundational to what your ecological survey entails.
What if nothing is found during a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal?
If there are no ecological constraints found during a PEA, then you will not need to take any further ecology surveys, and the project can continue unhindered.
Protected Species Surveys
What are Protected Species Surveys?
Protected species are those considered important for the ecosystem or at risk of extinction. These can include anything from bats and great crested newts, to rare plants and insects.
Protected species surveys are a vital tool for conservation. They provide data on these species: where they live, their numbers, and their health. This information is crucial when planning projects that could affect their habitats.
How are Protected Species Surveys done?
Experts come in, using specialist techniques. They might set up night cameras, use acoustic equipment to record bat calls or perform a detailed hand search for certain plants. It’s a combination of patience, knowledge, and a lot of care!
What do Protected Species Surveys include?
- Bats: scoping inspections, bat activity surveys for all species (including emergence, transect, swarming)
- Birds: inspections, checks and surveys for nesting birds, breeding birds, migratory and winter birds, barn owls, vantage point surveys (VP), and building & tree inspections
- Great Crested Newts (GCN): daytime/walkover inspections, pond assessments, Habitat Suitability Index (HSI), detailed surveys (torching, egg searches etc.), bottle trapping
- Reptiles (all species): daytime inspections, presence/absence surveys, population surveys;
- Badgers: daytime surveys, sett identification, nocturnal population surveys;
- Dormouse: habitat assessment, hazelnut searches, presence/absence surveys (nest boxes);
- Otters and water voles; daytime inspections, habitat assessment, presence/absence surveys (evidence-based);
- Invertebrates – including white-clawed crayfish, stag beetles, daytime inspections, habitat assessment, and presence/absence surveys (evidence-based).
National Vegetation Classification (NVC) Surveys: A Quick Guide
What are NVCs?
An NVC survey is a comprehensive method of categorising vegetation within a specific habitat in the UK. It’s a tool vital for informed environmental management and conservation planning.
Such understanding is crucial in several ways. It informs sustainable land-use planning, aids in monitoring habitat changes, and supports the protection of biodiversity. This diligent process, therefore, plays a crucial role in effective environmental stewardship.
How are NVCs carried out?
Teams of ecologists walk through a designated area, systematically recording all the plant species they find. They take note of the types of plants and their abundance, creating a detailed picture of the vegetation. The data collected helps to classify the vegetation into various categories, hence the name ‘vegetation classification’.
What are Hedgerow Ecology Surveys?
Hedgerows are more than just boundary markers; they are vital components of our ecosystem. These green barriers offer habitats for a variety of species, aid in soil conservation, and contribute to the scenic beauty of our landscapes.
The process of conducting a hedgerow survey is quite meticulous. It involves examining the composition of plant species, assessing the structure, and noting any signs of wildlife habitation.
Conducting these surveys allows us to grasp the health of our hedgerows, informing conservation efforts, and ensuring these natural assets continue to thrive.
How are Hedgerow Ecological Surveys carried out?
Ecologists walk along hedgerows, checking their structure, and the variety of plants, and looking out for nesting birds or protected species. They’re assessing the health and value of the hedgerow to wildlife. This could involve checking for gaps, the range of plant species, and signs of animals.
The information collected helps to understand how to maintain or improve these crucial parts of our landscape.
Botanical Ecological Surveys
What is a Botanical Ecological Survey?
A botanical survey is a focused study where experts identify and record all plant species within a certain area. This helps us understand the health and biodiversity of that ecosystem, guiding decisions about conservation and environmental management.
Why do a Botanical Ecology Survey?
Well, understanding what plants are here helps us manage the land better. It gives us insights into biodiversity, lets us spot any rare or invasive species, and helps plan conservation efforts.
The benefits are pretty big. It’s not just about knowing our green friends better. These surveys can guide land use, influence policy, help conserve threatened species, and even tackle climate change.
How is a Botanical Ecological Survey conducted?
Typically, a team of botanists will explore an area, identifying and recording plant species. They might take samples for further study, map locations, and photograph species. It’s detailed, systematic work, but vital for understanding and protecting our natural world.
River Corridor Surveys
What is a River Corridor Survey?
A river corridor survey is a systematic examination of a river ecosystem. It focuses on the river’s physical attributes, surrounding vegetation, and biodiversity.
River Corridors and the Ecosystem
River corridors, the land areas adjacent to the river, are ecological lifelines. They promote biodiversity, assist in flood management, and maintain water quality.
How are River Corridor Ecology Surveys conducted?
River surveys are conducted by trained ecologists. They record details such as river shape, flow, vegetation types, and species present. This information is pivotal in managing and preserving our river ecosystems.
Invasive Plant Species Surveys
What is an Invasive Plant Species Survey?
An invasive plant species survey is a methodical inspection to detect and identify non-native plants. These plants, often introduced accidentally or intentionally, can harm the local ecosystem if unchecked.
How are Invasive Plant Species Surveys done?
The surveys are carried out by professional ecologists. They inspect the area and identify and map the location of invasive species. The collected data inform management plans to control or eradicate these species.
Examples of Invasive Plant Species
Invasive Plant Species are also part of the overall ecological survey. We regularly inspect and advise clients on the presence of invasive plants such as Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica), Himalayan Balsam (Impations glandulifera) and Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum).
It is illegal to plant or allow the spread of plant species listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). A list of plant species within Schedule 9 and guidance is available at legislation.gov.uk and gov.uk.
Ecological Impact Assessments
What is an Ecological Impact Assessment (EIA)?
An Ecological Impact Assessment, or EIA, is a study used to understand the potential effects a proposed development might have on local ecology.
Conducting an EIA
EIA involves several steps. Firstly, ecologists assess the existing environment. Then, they predict how the planned development might impact this. They evaluate the severity and acceptability of these impacts and then suggest ways to mitigate them.
The Role of EIA in Mitigating Ecological Damage
EIA plays a crucial role in protecting our natural world. It allows us to balance development with the need to preserve biodiversity and ecosystems. Mitigation strategies suggested through EIA help in reducing or compensating for any potential harm.
Mitigation / Site Management
Whether it be local authority liaison, Natural England licence application, toolbox talks, site supervision, habitat creation or translocation, clear guidance by an appropriately qualified, licensed and experienced ecology consultancy ensures you receive the correct advice upfront.
Mitigation measures can include several strategies and options to limit the impact and effects of development on habitat and protected species. Planning the mitigation measures early in the proposed development site plan can benefit the development timeframe and will assist in supporting planning approval etc.
The mitigation options can include avoidance by design, incorporating and supplementing existing habitat into the design, integration of artificial homes (boxes, piles etc.), translocation of species to suitable natural habitats or habitat creation to enhance a site (meadows, ponds etc.).
Working with ecology consultants is often a requirement from a local authority as part of a planning condition and application. As an applicant looking for planning permission on an area that may be impacted in terms of its natural habitat, you must present all relevant ecological information with your planning application, or at least soon after.
From the perspective of development, an ecological survey ensures that they are adhering to UK wildlife law and any obligations that they have as the lead developer, anticipating any questions that the local planning authority may have once a planning application is in process.
Staying ahead of the game in terms of surveying the immediate area of a prospective development can cut time and costs. If you are searching for ecological consultancy in the UK that can provide you with an in-depth study of an area, whether you are a developer, or looking to assist with a conservation effort, Indigo Surveys is the right team to call.
Our specialist ecology consultants are committed to ensuring that our service continues to improve at all times, offering a high level of quality and standards consistently.
How do I find the right Ecology Consultants to carry out my Habitat Survey?
Here, at Indigo Surveys, we are vastly experienced in the type of ecological consultancy required to be able to provide you with an effective Habitat Survey in your setting. You are welcome to make any queries today over at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Being a national ecological consultancy company for almost a decade has enabled us to gather a lot of familiarity with the scope of Phase 1 Habitat Survey options. If you’re a family, business or individual looking to invest in a property, our professionals will be able to help by offering an appropriate ecology survey. Our ecology consultants have helped homeowners, developers, architects, engineers, solicitors, estate managers, retailers and others including local authorities.
It is highly valuable to enlist the services of our ecology surveyors, a team who can protect you from all the financial risks of not conducting a proper ecology survey. If you need professionals who can offer specialist ecology consultancy, Indigo Surveys offers highly skilled and experienced ecological surveyors.
A reliable ecology consultant will have the flexibility to work on any site, regardless of its varying characteristics. Indigo Surveys’ specialists fully understand the unique requirements of every site. So, you can always be certain that our flexible team of ecology surveyors can offer a service that will suit your exact needs. Our ecological consultants UK team is available in major cities and towns across the country. We operate from Chester, with services in London, Birmingham and many other locations.
This leaves us ideally positioned to offer ecology survey options with swiftness and efficiency throughout the UK. Contact us for trusted advice on how best to eliminate risks related to ecology surveys. Once you enlist us, we’ll have a specialist visit your site, with the ecology consultant able to offer a personalised review of your site, covering every key aspect of its features. With the skill and experience we have, you can be certain that the professional will be able to advise you on the exact ecological requirements of your site.
What are the benefits of a full Ecological Survey?
An initial ecological survey will confirm the presence or absence of habitats and species and is vital before planning permission for a development can be sought. Through a habitat survey, any ecological constraints on a site will be identified at the earliest opportunity and can be taken into consideration with development plans to minimise the impact on biodiversity.
Identifying species on a site will help minimise disturbance to their habitat and ensure that appropriate mitigation, and potentially new habitats, can be created, thus smoothing the way for planning consent to be given. Having a survey completed is an essential part of the planning process and must be completed before putting in a planning application.
Knowing the environmental impact any development may have, and all the relevant ecological matters regarding a site will help determine whether any further surveys are required. The identification of specific habitats, including those that may contain protected species such as bats, foxes, badgers, amphibians, or even protected plants, is key to ensuring that the right action is taken at the right time and projects are not unnecessarily delayed.
Following the initial ecological survey, if no issues are identified, then no further surveys are usually required, and the ecological survey report can be submitted as part of the planning application. If something is identified, such as protected species, then further surveys will need to be arranged and an approach agreed upon to mitigate for impact on any habitats or species.
With any development required to create at least a 10% biodiversity net gain (BNG), this has made ecology surveys more important than ever before to ensure that binding environmental targets are met.
Overall, obtaining the correct information early on at the design stage of a project can save considerable time and reduce costs. While a Phase 1 Habitat Survey can be carried out throughout the year, there are restrictions on the optimum survey periods for some protected species, so factoring this in early can help you avoid costly delays and keep your development project on track.
Detailed surveys and reports enable our clients, the design team and associated personnel to have full information about the presence or otherwise of protected species on or adjacent to a site. The potential constraints imposed by the presence of protected species can often lead to delays, however, specialist advice from our specialist ecology consultants as early as possible in the process can save time and money.
Get in touch for an ecological survey today.
Why Choose Indigo Surveys?
We will make sure you learn of any current or future issues or risks that you need to be aware of. Our ecology consultancy team will then offer guidance on how to deal with these issues.
It doesn’t matter where your property is across the country, our ecological consultants UK specialists will offer flexible and personalised advice, highly reliable for any person interested in the needs of their site and/or property. We have a team of specialists who work together to offer reliable advice to suit your site needs.
Our ecological consultancy UK team always adheres to all the British safety and quality standards. So, you can relax with Indigo Surveys, as you’re free from unnecessary related risks. We have an approach that allows our clients peace of mind because our specialists comply with all national and local council regulations.
The collaborative approach we are talking about involves advice from individually qualified and knowledgeable ecology consultants. These professionals provide the right advice for every step, at an opportune time.
You will receive professional insight at every stage of the process thanks to our system, one that has ecological surveyors working in tandem. All your questions will be answered in detail and you’ll receive advice on what actions your site requires. For an important task such as an ecological survey, you will want professionals who are committed to what they do every time they take on a project.
The ecological consultants at Indigo Surveys have a great dedication to our clients. We are ecological specialists who always deliver high-quality, pragmatic, reliable and creative solutions for any project you might have on your site. You are welcome to contact our team, we are friendly, and helpful and understand the diverse survey needs of various sites and clients. Please don’t hesitate to contact our ecology consultancy team for specialist advice at affordable prices. Access our Contact page for phone, email and web chat options. We will be delighted to speak to you and assist with everything related to Phase 1 Habitat Surveys.
Get in touch for an ecological survey today.
“We have retained Indigo Surveys to undertake measured surveys and tree services for various projects over the last 5 years and have always found the price, quality and customer service to be excellent. Andrew Turnbull is exceptionally helpful, easy to contact and always responds to queries in a timely manner.”
“I have worked with Indigo on many school projects. Many ran at the same time and had very short pre-construction programmes. Indigo were proactive and able to meet the challenging programmes, which enabled us to meet all submission dates for approval. We were kept aware of all ecology/arboricultural issues from the outset.”
“Indigo’s role in the Project Team was crucial in obtaining Planning Permission on a complex and challenging site. Their expert arboricultural knowledge resulted in successful negotiations with the Planning Authority and helped make the project feasible while also ensuring that it preserved the character of the site.”
“We used Andy at Indigo Surveys for a difficult planning scheme in Wimbledon Village and found his knowledge and strategy in dealing with the various issues thrown up very impressive and the added footprint that this gave the client on the scheme was invaluable. We continue to use Indigo Surveys Ltd for Arboricultural Consultancy services, and would be very happy to recommend them.”