Ecology Services

We provide expert ecological services for all sectors, including development, construction, conservation, research and policy. Please contact us if you require any further information or would like us to provide a quote for a particular project.

Wildlife Surveys

Birds

We have a highly experienced team of ornithologists and are able to provide a wide range of bird surveys, such as breeding bird surveys, flight activity (vantage point) surveys, winter bird surveys and specialist species-specific surveys. We are licenced to undertake surveys for all species listed under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) in Scotland, and can also obtain licences for other parts of the UK if necessary. If needed for a wind farm project, we can also complete bird collision risk modelling using flight activity survey data.

All breeding birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) as amended, while species listed under Schedules 1, 1A and A1 are afforded additional protection.

Protected Mammals

We have experience of completing surveys for all protected terrestrial mammal species in Scotland. This includes badgers, water vole, otters, red squirrels, pine martens, wild cats and bats. We are able to arrange bat roost surveys if needed, and also have several camera traps which can be used to help detect cryptic species such as pine martin and wild cat.

We can also provide surveys for other mammal species for research purposes.

Reptiles

We have a particular interest in reptiles at Caledonian Conservation, and have been conducting our own research on Scottish grass snakes (see publications section). We also host the Scottish Project Officer for Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC), and have recently prepared peatland reptile guidelines for SNH.

The common lizard, slow-worm, and adder are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) against intentional or reckless killing and injuring. Scotland is also home to one population of sand lizards (European Protected Species, but as these are introduced they are not afforded this level of protection in Scotland), and also supports sea turtles. We can provide baseline reptile surveys (excluding sea turtles), and also often provide reptile mitigation and Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW) services.

Amphibians

Amphibians are another area of specialism at Caledonian Conservation, and we provide training on amphibians as part of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) Continued Professional Development programme. We also completed the revision of the great crested newt mitigation guidelines for SNH.

The great crested newt is a European Protected Species. Great crested newts cannot be injured or disturbed, and their breeding habitats are also protected. We hold great crested newt licences for Scotland and England, and can therefore survey for these animals. We also often provide great-crested newt mitigation and Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW) services.

Invertebrates

Caledonian Conservation is unusual in that we have an in-house team of invertebrate experts. Our particular personal interests include Coleoptera (beetles), Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), Hemiptera (true bugs), Hymenoptera (bees, wasps and ants), Araneae (spiders) and other arachnids as well as freshwater invertebrates. We also work with a wide range of associates who can provide other specialist survey and identification services. In addition, we are able to provide specific surveys and guidance on protected invertebrate species such as freshwater pearl mussel and the marsh fritillary butterfly.

We have been involved in a wide variety of invertebrate work over the last few years, including doing site condition monitoring for SNH and an invertebrate survey and management plan for a Malls Mire Local Nature Reserve (LNR). We have also recently published an article in the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) In Practice providing a recommended protocol for wood ant nest translocations, based on our experience and a review of other examples (see publications section). We have a wide variety of field equipment to survey both terrestrial and freshwater invertebrates, ranging from technical equipment such as moth traps and bug-vac through to the more everyday nets, pit-fall traps and bark traps.

 

Habitat Surveys

Phase 1

Phase 1 surveys involve classifying habitats following a specific protocol defined by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). A colour-coded map is then produced which is often used to inform the need for further surveys, or to create a baseline for a site’s current state.  We can also provide extended Phase 1 surveys, which include extra details such as suitability for mammals and other protected species. 

National Vegetation Classification (NVC)

NVC surveys are often conducted on habitats of interest following a Phase 1 survey, particularly when habitats listed under Annex I of the Habitats Directive or Groundwater Dependent Terrestrial Ecosystems (GWDTEs) may be present. We can carry out NVC surveys and provide detailed mapping and species lists, which are often required for planning applications.

Bespoke habitat surveys

We are often asked to produce bespoke surveys to identify suitable habitat for specific species. Previous examples have included mapping suitable habitat for reptiles and invertebrates.

Protected plants and fungi

All wild plant species receive a level of protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). Some species are given added protection under that Act by being listed on Schedule 8, and a small number are classified as European Protected Species.

We can provide surveys for specific plants and fungi, and previous projects have included Scottish primrose and bryophytes.

 

ArcGIS

ArcGIS is a Geographic Information System which we use to create maps, compile geographic data and analyse this. We use ArcGIS for a wide range of purposes, such as mapping habitat, recording bird flight lines, and viewshed analysis. Most of our work with ArcGIS is with our own data, but we are also able to complete GIS services using data that a client provides from other sources.

 

Collision Risk Modelling

Wind farm bird Collision Risk Modelling (CRM) is a way of estimating the potential bird mortality that could be caused by a proposed wind farm. CRM depends on a wide range of factors, such as flight activity, size and speed of the bird, and size and speed of rotation of the proposed turbines. We can conduct CRM on data that we have gathered during surveys, or on data that a client provides from other sources. 

 

Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA)

Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) is the process of identifying and evaluating the impact of defined actions on ecosystems or their components. It is often done as part of the wider Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) or Environmental Appraisal (EA) which can include aspects such as hydrology, environmental noise, landscape and visual impact assessment and archaeology.

Caledonian Conservation can carry out all the surveys, mapping and analysis, and provide recommendations required to produce a stand-alone EcIA or a chapter as part of a full EIA. We can also produce EcIAs from data in previously produced reports.

The EcIA process can be very complex, as survey, mitigation, management and monitoring requirements often change as projects progress. We work closely with other project partners and stakeholders (including the client, statutory bodies, planners, other specialist consultants and engineers) to make the process as straightforward as possible. We have provided EcIA services for projects as diverse as wind farms, solar parks and power lines.

 

Mitigation and Ecological Clerk of Works

An Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW) provides guidance and advice on ecological issues during a construction project, to ensure that the project follows the agreed method statement and planning conditions. Depending upon the project, an ECoW may undertake tasks as diverse as pre-construction checks, training for construction staff (tool box talks), and providing advice on protected species (including translocation).

All of our ECoW staff have their Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) cards and appropriate PPE. We have experience of providing ECoW staff for a wide range of projects including solar parks, wind farms, power lines, rail, roads and mineral extraction.

We can also advise on, and create, mitigation plans for construction projects. For example, we have advised on the creation of new hedges (including recommending species composition), the translocation of great-crested newts and wood ant nests, and peatland restoration. We can provide guidance on mitigation to avoid impacts (such as production of Construction Method Statements), or have a more hands-on role in projects such as translocations and habitat creation.

 

Research

We have been involved in a wide variety of ecological research projects, some of which are contracted directly. For example, we have been involved in Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) Site Condition Monitoring for invertebrates for several years now. Other research starts from a specific project, and is then ongoing. For example, we were involved in a wood ant nest translocation in Aviemore, which led to a special interest in this topic, further research and the publication of articles and conference presentations.

Many of our staff are actively involved in volunteer positions with organsiations as diverse as Raptor Study Groups, Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK (ARG-UK), the British Arachnological Society, and Doune Community Woodland Group. As part of this, we often conduct in-house research. We are currently concentrating on the grass snake (Natrix natrix) distribution in Scotland, montane plants, wood ant nest translocations, and the distribution and ecology of the rare bog sun-jumper spider (Heliophanus dampfi).

We are dedicated to making as much information as publicly accessible as possible. We therefore put all publications that are not commercially-sensitive on our website, and also aim to share records via NBN Gateway as often as possible (and where this is contractually permitted).

We also support research undertaken by other individuals and organisations by providing funding, resources and expertise. Recent examples include providing funding towards Record Pool (an online recording system for UK reptiles and amphibians), BRISC (Biological Recording in Scotland), the Herpetofauna Workers Meeting 2016 (ARC and ARG-UK), and the publication of British Arachnological Society information leaflets. We supported reptile and amphibian research completed by Erik Paterson around East Kilbride (see our publications section), are also supporting the production and publication of the forthcoming Amphibians and Reptiles of Scotland book edited by Chris McInerny and Pete Minting, for which Director Chris Cathrine wrote the grass snake chapter.

 

Policy and Guidelines

We have extensive experience of working alongside other organisations to help them create or update ecological policy documents, guidelines and management plans.

Recent examples include providing recommendations to manage a site for invertebrates at Malls Mire Local Nature Reserve for Urban Roots, updating great-crested newt guidelines for SNH, creating new peatland restoration guidelines for reptiles for SNH, and providing policy input on invertebrates for the Scottish Biodiversity List rationalisation.

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