Protected species surveys
We undertake a variety of surveys for species that are protected by law, some either directly, others working with associates. Our most regularly used species surveys are as follows:
Great crested newt surveys
Surveys for great crested newts are undertaken to a standard suitable for a European protected species mitigation license application following Natural England guidance.
Sites are scoped first of all by undertaking a Habitat Suitability Index survey and this, together with the size of the development and its location determines if further survey is required.
Great crested newt presence is tested by a combination of egg searching, bottle trapping, night-time torch-light surveys and hand netting, with four visits made to the pond. If newts are found in a pond in these visits a further two are required to estimate the relative size of the newt population.
The highest count is used from these six visits to estimate the relative population size, and this information is used to assess the significance of the newt population and to design a suitable mitigation package, if required.
It is illegal to kill any of the widespread reptile species (adder, grass snake, viviparous lizard and slow-worm) and two species are fully protected (the sand lizard and smooth snake) and therefore when land is to be developed, or subject to significant disturbance it is necessary to avoid harming them.
Reptiles use habitats that offer exposure to the sun, cover from predators, suitable food and safe refuges, and if such habitat is noted during a preliminary ecological survey a survey for reptiles will be recommended.
Reptile surveys involve searching for suitable basking spots (aided by placing refugia – pieces of roof-felt or corrugated iron across the site) and recording any animals that are observed. Seven visits in suitable weather conditions are required to confirm presence/absence, after which additional surveys may be required to assess the likely population size. Relative population size estimates are used to devise a suitable mitigation strategy.
Our surveys follow guidance set out by Natural England.
The medicinal leech is a protected invertebrate that has its most extensive UK population in the wetlands of the Romney Marshes. Surveys of wetlands have been undertaken to locate this animal so that important areas of habitat can be avoided if possible when planning developments such as pipelines, or alternatively to mitigate harm. Leeches are located by splash sampling, torchlight survey or searching in old waterfowl nests.
We will be happy to discuss surveys for other species with you if you require them..