23 April 2018 by Chris Cathrine | Comments: 0
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A new guidance document for reptile survey and mitigation in peatland habitats has been published by Amphibian & Reptile Groups of the UK (ARG UK), supported by Froglife, the Herpetological Society of Ireland (the HSI), and Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC Trust). The publication of this document is significant, as there has long been a guidance vacuum for reptiles – this goes a small way to filling that gap.
All native reptile species are legally protected in the UK and Ireland, and so consideration should be given to mitigation to avoid committing an offence under the relevant nation-specific legislation (note that wildlife protection law is devolved and varies between individual UK countries).
The document, authored by Caledonian Conservation Ltd Director Chris Cathrine, focuses on Scotland where peatland habitats are extensive. However, it could be applied to England, Wales, Northern Ireland, or Ireland where peatland habitats also occur. The guidance is intended to assist in designing mitigation for impacts on reptiles during peatland restoration works but the methods described may also be suitable for the construction phase of some developments on these habitats. Similarly, some of the approaches described could be adapted, with care, for reptiles occurring on other habitats.
The guidance provides information on peatland reptile ecology, potential impacts, survey methods, and approaches to mitigation to avoid harm to reptiles and construct hibernation features. A decision tree flow chart is also provided, to help site managers to consider reptiles while planning works.
The new Reptile Survey and Mitigation Guidance for Peatland Habitats document can be downloaded at: https://www.arguk.org/info-advice/advice-notes/414-10-advice-note-10-reptile-survey-and-mitigation-guidance-for-peatland-habitats
16 November 2017 by Chris Cathrine | Comments: 0
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Caledonian Conservation has been working to satisfy ecology planning conditions for RES at Freasdail Wind Farm in Kintyre since 2014, involving developing and delivering mitigation for a range of birds, mammals, reptiles and habitats, as well as providing Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW) services. The final step in this process was the deployment of nest rafts to encourage red-throated divers – rare birds protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended in Scotland) – to breed.
Red-throated divers spend winter at sea, and return to breeding territories (usually small lochans in open moorland) in spring. The nest consists of a small scrape, normally located at the water’s edge, or on an island. As nests are often located within easy access of predators such as foxes, otters and gulls, disturbance and predation can cause breeding failure. Nests are also vulnerable to flooding during incubation – an increasingly common problem as summers become wetter as a result of climate change.
Artificial nest rafts have been found to greatly improve the success of breeding divers. These rafts are not susceptible to flooding, as they adjust automatically with the water level, and also limit access to land-based predators.
To avoid disturbance, nest rafts were installed after the major elements of construction were complete. Locations for rafts were carefully chosen to avoid risk of collision with wind turbines while red-throated divers commute between nesting lochans and feeding habitat (the sea and larger waterbodies), and to ensure there would be no human-caused disturbance during operational maintenance activities.
Working with Simon Lawrence (Lawrence Environmental Consultants), the nest rafts were successfully installed by Caledonian Conservation in April 2017, and will hopefully improve the breeding success of red-throated divers in the area in future years.
Read more about RES at: http://www.res-group.com/en
Read more about Freasdail Wind Farm at: http://www.freasdail-windfarm.co.uk/
Photo: Diver nest raft installed near Freasdail Wind Farm © Simon Lawrence
02 November 2017 by Chris Cathrine | Comments: 0
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Caledonian Conservation Ltd is proud to sponsor the Tay Landscape Partnership Buildings for Biodiversity Conference, to be held at Perth Concert Hall on 9th November. As people expand urban environments and develop new areas for natural resources such as renewable energy, it is becoming increasingly clear that segregation of wildlife and development is not realistic; instead, we need to ensure biodiversity benefits are integrated in to these projects. This conference therefore tackles an important and very current topic.
While developments offer obvious challenges for wildlife, there are many opportunities to benefit biodiversity. Tay Landscape Partnership pioneered a landscape scale approach to identifying these opportunities with their Buildings for Biodiversity and Tay to Braes projects, which we are proud to have contributed to at Caledonian Conservation Ltd.
The conference programme is wide ranging, covering wildlife law and development, mitigation and enhancement for species, or broader biodiversity opportunities such as green roofs. The speakers are from an equally diverse range of organisations, including Gaia Research, Swift Conservation, Police Scotland, and Arc Architects Ltd. Pioneering and inspirational urban ecologist Dusty Gedge will also be giving a talk on Nature-‘based Solutions in the Urban Real.’
As well as the main presentations, there will also be a series of shorter talks including one by Caledonian Conservation Ltd Director Chris Cathrine, as well as Butterfly Conservation Scotland, Inchture Parish Church, Hillcrest Housing Association, Bat Conservation Trust, and the local Amphibian and Reptile Group.
For more information on the event, visit the The Tay Landscape Partnership Buildings for Biodiversity Conference website.
For more information on the landscape scale biodiversity work Caledonian Conservation Ltd completed for Tay Landscape Partnership’s Buildings for Biodiversity and Tay to Braes projects, download the report from our publications page, or directly here: Cathrine, C., Flood, E., Norris, G. and Johnston, S. 2015. Tay Landscape Partnership: Habitats and Buildings Survey. Caledonian Conservation Ltd, Hamilton.
28 April 2017 by Chris Cathrine | Comments: 0
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A new book, ‘Amphibians & Reptiles of Scotland’, has been published. This is the most comprehensive publication on Scotland’s herptiles (amphibians and reptiles) in recent history, including all details of ecology and distribution for all of our native species (including sea turtles) as well as introduced and vagrant species. Chapters also cover conservation, legal protection, cultural connections, projects and development mitigation.
The principle authors, Chris McInerny (University of Glasgow) and Pete Minting (Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust) bring a wealth of experience, while guest authors bring particular expertise. Chris Cathrine (Caledonian Conservation Ltd) prepared the grass snake and development mitigation sections, while David O’Brien (Scottish Natural Heritage) wrote the chapter on great crested newt. All authors drew on a wide range of published sources, and information from other experts.
The book also boasts lavish colour photographs, distribution maps and a beautiful frontispiece by Chris Rose.
Caledonian Conservation Ltd is proud to have sponsored the production of this book, which is an excellent resource for professionals and interested members of the public alike.
The book is available in print, costing £27.50 (inclusive of postage within the UK) – contact Chris McInerny for details of how to order your copy (Chris.McInerny@glasgow.ac.uk).
The book can also be downloaded as a free PDF from the Glasgow Natural History Society website.
06 March 2017 by Chris Cathrine | Comments: 0
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Caledonian Conservation Ltd staff have a wide range of expertise, and run training courses to share skills and knowledge with other ecology professionals. Training that Chris Cathrine (Director) delivers includes running courses on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM), the leading professional body for ecologists and environmental managers in the UK and Ireland. Having run great crested newt survey and mitigation courses for CIEEM since 2015, Chris is also delivering Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) and wind farm bird collision risk modelling training courses for the professional body in 2017.
CIEEM runs EcIA courses for ecology professionals throughout the UK, ensuring trainers have appropriate experience of the country training is delivered in as relevant legislation and policies are devolved. While updating the EcIA Level 2 course for Scotland, Chris worked with CIEEM’s England and Wales trainer, Mike Dean, and attended one of his courses in Wales to ensure that training would be appropriate but consistent between the UK countries.
Chris delivered his first CIEEM EcIA training course in Scotland last week, at a venue in Edinburgh, drawing on over 10 years' experience as an ecological consultant and his previous roles with Local Authority and as planning casework officer for a conservation charity. Participants came from a range of backgrounds including consultants, charities / NGOs and government agencies / local authorities, really adding depth to group activities and encouraging interesting questions. After all, EcIA principles can be applied to reports supporting planning applications, ecology chapters in Environmental Statements for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs), Habitats Regulations Appraisals (HRAs), conservation management plans for sites – any project that could impact ecology. The course was a success, based on informal and formal feedback, and Chris is looking forward to running more EcIA training on behalf of CIEEM in the future.
Chris will be running the following courses on behalf of CIEEM this spring:
To find out more about Chris’s other courses delivered as part of CIEEM’s training programme and to book on to these or other events, visit: cieem.activclient.com/CIEEM/Events/Event-Listing.aspx
To find out more about CIEEM, visit: www.cieem.net
23 November 2016 by Chris Cathrine | Comments: 0
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Caledonian Conservation Ltd presented a case study of reptile mitigation work we have been undertaking in Scotland at a conference on 9th October 2016 in Cheddar focussing on adder conservation in the UK - The Vanishing Viper: Priorities for adder conservation (organised by Amphibian & Reptile Groups of the UK and Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust).
The case study involves an underground cable route which will connect RES Ltd Freasdail Wind Farm to the grid. This route crosses over 10 km of reptile habitat where adders, common lizards and slow-worms are present. However, the construction methods are relatively low impact and transient. As the erection of a reptile fence of such length would have a greater negative effect than the construction itself, an innovative approach was developed to avoid harm to reptiles during works. This contrasts with the construction of the wind farm itself, where traditional reptile mitigation using fencing was appropriate.
The presentation was given while works were still in progress, however construction of the cable has since finished and no evidence of harm to reptiles has been recorded. Therefore, in this case, we conclude that the approach developed was appropriate for Freasdail Wind Farm. However, at present there is no formal published guidance on reptile mitigation in the UK and this is urgently needed to help protect these special animals.
We hope to publish a detailed article on the mitigation approach and results in the future, so that other ecologists may learn from this work in the absence of formal guidance.
As Director Chris Cathrine was expecting the imminent arrival of his second child, Ian Bradley (Ecological Clerk of Works for much of the project) kindly delivered the presentation, which is available to download here.
For more information about RES Ltd, go to: http://www.res-group.com/en
For more information about Amphibian & Reptile Groups of the UK, go to: http://www.arguk.org
For more information about Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust, go to: http://www.arc-trust.org
22 April 2016 by | Comments: 0
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Director Chris Cathrine had a great time last week teaching two courses on great crested newts for CIEEM.
The first course covered ecology and survey techniques, and included practical hands-on sessions on newt identification and surveying skills. The second course went into more depth about great crested newt assessment and mitigation, and included a wide range of scenario-based group activities.
Feedback from the two courses was great, and we hope to run more in future. Comments included "Excellent comprehensive guidance all round", "very knowledgeable and personable tutor" and "catered for a wide range of people with different backgrounds and experience".
As well as running courses via CIEEM we are able to provide courses to other organisations and individuals, so why not have a look at our training page at http://www.caledonianconservation.co.uk/services/training/ to see what else we offer.