Save our Curlews Project - Shropshire

The Curlew is a species very close to our hearts; we are therefore delighted to be involved with an important conservation project taking place in Shropshire this year. 

The Curlew population of this County, in common with most others, is declining rapidly. This project aims to find and monitor nests with cameras to determine the cause of failure or productivity, thus enabling targeted conservation in future years.

Full details of the project are available on the Webzine:

https://biomeecology.com/research/2018/02/save-curlews-project/

IMMEDIATE CONSERVATION ACTION IS DEEMED NECESSARY IF THE EVOCATIVE BUBBLING SONG OF THE CURLEW IS NOT TO BE LOST FROM THE COUNTY FOREVER.
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Tree Climbing

We’ve been busy tree climbing this winter! Bat surveys of trees are necessary where development proposals include tree felling or lopping where bats or their roosts could be directly impacted, if present. Surveys may also be needed in circumstances where an indirect impact is possible (e.g. through lighting).

The survey method is a staged process starting with a preliminary ground level roost inspection, which may be followed by a Potential Roost Feature inspection, presence/likely absence and/or roost characterisation surveys.

Our BiOME ecologists are qualified in Tree Climbing and Aerial Rescue and have accumulated many hours high up in trees in recent years. This qualification, along with the team members relevant bat survey/disturbance licences, allowed BiOME to complete bat roost surveys of trees at numerous sites for clients across the UK.

 

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Habitats Regulations Assessment - Wales & England

In 1992 member states of the European Union (EU) adopted legislation designed to protect the most seriously threatened habitats and species across Europe. This legislation is referred to as the Habitats Directive and complements the Birds Directive. The basis of both these Directives was the creation of a network of protected sites, collectively called Natura 2000 sites (also referred to as ‘European sites’).

Under Article 6(3) and 6(4) of the Habitats Directive, any project / plan likely to have a significant impact upon Natura 2000 sites (either alone or in combination with other plans or projects) must be subject to Appropriate Assessment by a competent authority. The process for determining whether an Appropriate Assessment is required (screening), together with the Appropriate Assessment itself (where it is considered necessary following screening), is known as Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) and is set out in Regulation 48 of the Habitats Regulations.

Over the course of the last twelve months BiOME have been commissioned by clients to complete the required ecology work in relation to a number of proposed developments (harbour improvements, a leisure centre, road upgrade and single turbines) in close proximity to coastal Natura 2000 sites, in both England and Wales. 

To inform the HRA process, robust, comprehensive and repeatable bird surveys were required. These surveys were designed and completed by our in-house team of highly experienced ornithologists, producing a dataset upon which it was possible to fully and confidently assess the impacts of the proposed development, both alone and in-combination with other projects.

We look forward to completing the post-construction ornithological monitoring in relation to these projects in future years.

Wind Farm Post-Construction Monitoring

BiOME continues to expand both its client base and project portfolio in the post-construction monitoring sector, delivering projects at a number of new sites in Scotland and Wales during 2017, whilst continuing to deliver high quality services in relation to ongoing projects.

A variety of ecological impacts are possible following wind farm construction, including (but not limited to); direct loss/deterioration of habitats, indirect habitat loss (due to disturbance/displacement), mortality (from collisions) and barrier effects. Post-construction monitoring is often required to verify the magnitude and extent of the impacts predicted during the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, and to monitor implemented mitigation to ensure that it is having the desired effect.

Completed survey and assessment work during 2017 included:

  • The monitoring of Golden Plover numbers following the implementation of habitat management measures to dissuade this species from the wind farm area during the autumn at a wind farm in Scotland. Surveys included walkover surveys, Vantage Point (VP) surveys (followed by Collision Risk Modelling (CRM)) and carcass searches (to validate the results of the CRM), along with the monitoring of habitats to ensure that the prescribed management occurred.
  • Monitoring of a Schedule 1 bird species at a wind farm in Wales using VP surveys and walkovers to enable the assessment of impacts in relation to potential collision risk and displacement of nesting birds.
  • The monitoring of breeding and wintering birds at a wind farm in Scotland, including Common Bird Census (CBC) walkover surveys (and territory mapping), VP surveys and the monitoring of Peregrines that nest in the vicinity of the wind farm. Followed by CRM, and an updated assessment of impacts.
  • Habitat (National Vegetation Classification), bat activity and breeding bird surveys (VP and Brown & Shepherd walkovers) at a wind farm in Wales.

Ecological Clerk of Works and Great Crested Newt mitigation work was also completed by our team of licenced surveyors.

Whilst a number of these projects commenced in 2017, others have been ongoing for at least three years. The completion and sharing of post-construction monitoring is vital to further our understanding of ecological impacts from wind developments enabling more robust assessment during the EIA process. BiOME is committed to contributing to this knowledge base wherever possible, sharing data with, for example, the Scottish Windfarm Bird Steering Group and preparing scientific papers.

European Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria - Our work at a Scottish site in 2017 included a comprehenisve suite of surveys in relation to this species

Curlew Numenius arquata - A key consideration for many wind farms in mid-Wales

Curlew Numenius arquata - A key consideration for many wind farms in mid-Wales