Ecology

Ecology, flora and fauna.

Ecology, Flora and Fauna

BioLogic can carry out habitat studies of the flora and fauna of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, as well as specialist botanical, conservation, insect, wildlife biology, wetland ecology, and biological water quality studies (Biotic Quality Index surveys). We can also carry out Screenings for Appropriate Assessments, Appropriate Assessments, ecological chapters for Environmental Impact Assessments, hedgerow and invasive species surveys and toolbox talks and training. 

.

When is an ecological survey required?

A planning authority may require an ecological survey to provide information on the ecological value of a site or the presence of protected species. The aim of these surveys is to determine how a proposed development might affect the existing flora and fauna on the site. These developments may include housing estates, road works, wind farms, quarries, hotels, golf courses, landfills or other projects. BioLogic provides tailored monitoring services, surveys and reports to suit the needs of each project. It is recommended that ecological concerns be addressed as early as possible in any proposed project to lower the chances of costly delays by identifying potential issues and incorporating mitigation measures at the project design stage.

 

Appropriate Assessments

Appropriate Assessments (AA) are required where a development may potentially impact a site of European importance such as a Special Protection Area (SPA) or Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). These can be required for everything from one-off house builds within a given distance of a tributary of a SAC river to larger commercial, housing and infrastructure developments. 

Stage 1: Screening for Appropriate Assessment

This is a simple screening exercise to determine whether the “plan or project, individually or in combination with other plans or projects is likely to have a significant effect on [a Natura 2000] site”. In line with the precautionary approach, this assessment should consider impacts in a worst-case scenario and without reference to any mitigation measures. Supporting information may be requested from the applicant in the form of a Screening for Appropriate Assessment report.

If an ecologist concludes that there is no risk of significant impacts on Natura 2000 sites they can submit a Screening for Appropriate Assessment report to recommend that a full Appropriate Assessment is not required. However, if impacts are likely or uncertain, it will be necessary to proceed to Stage 2 of the Appropriate Assessment process and the ecologist must prepare a Natura Impact Statement to evaluate the impacts in greater detail.

 

Stage 2: Appropriate Assessment

If a Screening for Appropriate Assessment report concludes that a plan or project has potential to cause significant impacts on a Natura 2000 site (an SAC or SPA) it will be necessary to proceed to Stage 2 of the Appropriate Assessment process. The assessment is carried out by planning authorities but supporting information may be requested from the applicant to assist with the process. This is referred to as a Natura Impact Statement.

This statement provides a detailed impact assessment, which will address any potential direct, indirect or in-combination impacts on Natura 2000 sites. A precautionary approach to risk should be adopted whereby impacts should be considered in a worst-case scenario and should be avoided or reduced using fail-safe mitigation measures.

 

Stages 3 & 4

If significant impacts on Natura 2000 sites cannot be ruled out at Stage 2, the plan or project will usually be refused permission. However, there is provision in the legislation for certain developments to proceed if it can be shown that there are no other viable alternatives (Stage 3) and that there are “imperative reasons of over-riding public interest” for the development to proceed (Stage 4). In these cases, the applicant will need to provide extensive information to support their case, and will usually be expected to compensate for negative impacts by improving other parts of the Natura 2000 site.

 

Biological water quality assessments

Freshwater biological water quality assessments are an essential part of water resource management due to their effectiveness in establishing the true health of a body of water. In essence, the presence and numbers of indicator species are calculated against a number of standard biotic indices to provide a baseline biological water quality rating for a watercourse (the most commonly used is the EPA’s Q-value methodology).

This can be used to measure compliance with the EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EEC) with respect to ecological status for projects that may potentially affect surface waters such as construction work, licensed abstractions or, performed upstream and downstream, to demonstrate the effectiveness of water treatment measures for IPPC-licensed sites. Our freshwater biological water quality assessments are a rapid, cost-effective service, providing you with accurate and robust data on your aquatic environment.

 

Desktop studies and research

A desktop study may be carried out to obtain a better understanding of the habitats and species present on a site. This involves compiling available data from local and national sources to investigate the presence or likelihood of protected species or areas such as SACs, SPAs and NHAs.

 

Environmental Impact Assessment

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) forms an important part of many large scale projects to help understand the impact a proposed development will have on the area. Key steps undertaken for an EIA include:

  • Screening of proposal
  • Baseline surveys
  • Evaluation of options
  • Impact prediction
  • Choice of options
  • Design mitigation
  • Reporting of Environmental Statement
  • Implementation
  • Monitoring and audit

 

Habitat Surveys and Management Plans

A habitat survey is the first step in assessing the ecological value of a site. It is often required by a planning authority to accompany a planning application or to form part of an Environmental Impact Statement. Typically, it is carried out at an early stage in the development of a plan or project. This process usually involves:

  • Reviewing existing desktop information and conducting a brief site inspection
  • Identifying and evaluating any potential ecological constraints (e.g. protected areas, structures that may be used by bats etc.)
  • Consulting with relevant public authorities (where appropriate)
  • Assessing whether any additional surveys or reports may be required

.

The careful management of habitats for conservation can create new or conserve existing habitats. Habitat Management Plans are designed on a site-specific basis and over a suitable time period. They usually include an initial site assessment which entails collating detailed ecological data of a site, the surrounding area, reviewing past records and designing a working management plan. 

 

Other Ecological services

We offer other services depending on your project requirements including invertebrate surveys, hedgerow surveys, invasive species surveys, toolbox talks and so on.

 

Toolbox talks and training

We can provide toolbox talks to construction workers, school environmental classes for biodiversity or environmental weeks and classes on ecology. With our extensive training expertise we are adept at designing and delivering bespoke training courses to develop our clients’ ecological knowledge.

 

If you need any of the services listed above or just need to discuss options for your organisation, contact our expert team to guide you through the process of meeting your requirements.

Avail of your free initial consultation