2016: a year in review

Ecologists, you have never been as important as you are now!

It’s fair to say 2016 has been a rollercoaster of a year.

First, we had the lead up to Brexit; the trepidation, predicting the outcomes (see here), the fear. Then Brexit actually happened. It turned out no one actually had a plan B. Shock horror.

Then we had Trump. For many, the world seemed to be imploding.

There was a bit in between when young people flooded into the outdoors endeavoring to find exciting creatures, but it turned out they were chasing the fictional augmented reality characters of Pokémon Go and when the system crashed half of them were lost in their own towns and cities!

Throughout the year cataclysmic ecological news has filtered through from the huge effects of habitat fragmentation by roads, to the massively increased ice melts in the polar regions, yet another record annual temperature, CO2 hitting the 400ppm mark, and our oceans of plastic have been polluted by a few fish (oh wait…).

It seems the majority of people forget that everything we do, use, and eat has an intrinsic link to our planets resources. The human connection with nature and our planet is weakening.

Despite daily bad news, there have been some good bits too. Planet Earth II reminded us that the world is still spectacular and that wildlife can even flourish in well-managed, and well-planned cities. Perhaps best of all, the viewer ratings were higher than X-factor, including amongst the younger generation. The EU decided to maintain its current levels of nature protection, and Natural England amended its licensing laws which could facilitate forward thinking conservation, spatial-planning and land management in England to the benefit of nature.

Despite the pressures on the world, it still harbours some truly spectacular species: here Red Birds of Paradise displaying as seen in Planet Earth II

Despite the pressures on the world, it still harbours some truly spectacular species: here Red Birds of Paradise displaying as seen in Planet Earth II

Still, the pressures on nature are high, and now more than ever our role as ecologists is paramount, and the responsibility on developers to protect and enhance a weighty one.

For BiOME it has been a good year and we really hope many of our projects have benefited nature conservation as well as aiding developers small and large, conservation organisations, and statutory bodies. Our projects have ranged massively, from working in Guinea, west Africa, assessing the impacts of a mining development on crocodiles, manatees, seabirds, vultures and primates, to producing new guidance for aerial surveying of Basking Sharks off Scotland for Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). Many of our projects have involved European Protected Species (EPS) from Natterjacks and Great Crested Newts, to bats and Hazel Dormouse, and across a broad range of sectors still including much work in renewables. It’s important that this sector is still advancing despite the governments best efforts to make life difficult.

The critically endangered Hooded Vulture was a focal species for our surveys in Guinea

The critically endangered Hooded Vulture was a focal species for our surveys in Guinea

As well as our commercial exploits it was great to see the launch of BiOME Ecology, our new online magazine designed to cover a complete spectrum of ecological topics from where to watch mammals, to product reviews, discussion on topics such as Brexit, and features on focal species. Once again BiOME undertook another expedition to Atlantic Sahara resulting in some exciting discoveries including the confirmation of breeding Honey Badgers in the massifs in the east of the region, and confirming the continued existence of the critically endangered Atlantic Humpbacked Dolphin in Dakhla Bay.

A family of Honey Badgers in Western Sahara - the highlight of our camera trapping year

A family of Honey Badgers in Western Sahara - the highlight of our camera trapping year

Our work with camera traps continues and our 60 units were deployed at sites as varied as the Sahara and RSPB Loch Lomond. This year we have also run camera-trapping workshops and there are even still slots available for our free in-organisation workshops which we are offering until the end of February 2017 (see here for more).

Our Estonian nature reserve continues to go from strength to strength with clients enjoying varied mammal and bird life from the hide and our camera traps capturing everything else in between times!

2017 looks set to be another exciting year and we are thoroughly looking forward to working with many of you again, but for now it just leaves us to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year.