Paul reports on his trip to the Mammal Society Conference in Bangor. He attended talks on Dormice, badger mitigation and brown hares among other creatures and had a great group for his SM2 workshop.

Paul writes:

I was invited to run an SM2 workshop at the Mammal Conference held in Bangor by the British Mammal Society in early November 2011. The event was held in the Bramall building at Bangor University, which contains a small but fantastic natural history museum.

The difficulty with running an event such as this is the need to cater for a wide range of different audiences including interested members of the public who are just getting into natural history, enthusiastic volunteers (whose knowledge on British mammals often swamps many of the professionals), consultants, local authorities and academics. The conference was pitched perfectly invoking discussions within the talks and throughout the breaks and lunch.

The day was kicked off by the president of the Mammal society Dereck Yaldon, whose talk on Brown Hare populations was very interesting, of which one of the main conclusions is, he needs more hare records so please send any records to your local records office or to the Mammal Soc’s National Mammal Atlas. This was followed by a talk on badger mitigation by Penny Lewns and what works and what doesn’t. After lunch Jack Grasse gave a very unique talk on Dormouse surveying(see our dormouse blog piece here), I won’t go into detail as I think most people who attended the conference will agree that if you get a chance to see Jack speak whatever he speaks on you will remember forever. This was followed by a presentation on the Alcathose bat by Kate Williamson from Leeds university.

The mammal society gave a presentation looking at hedgehog survey techniques which required plastic sheeting, powder paint, oil white paper, paperclips, sticky back plastic and hot dog sausages. Very Blue Peter and very effective. I know I have missed other presentations out and of course all of the workshops but needless to say that the Mammal society events are well worth having a look at.

Many thanks to all of the people who organised such a wonderful event.

It took almost a whole season of survey to discover, but after monthly checks having setting out nest boxes and tubes in early June, dormice (Muscardinus avellanarius)  were discovered in hedges at a site in the south west of England.

Dormice are elusive and one of the hardest species to find.  They have a southern distribution in England and occur in Wales (with some outlier populations in the north, such as Northumberland, as well as introductions in Cheshire and Yorkshire). They can occur on sites with woodland, scrub or hedgerows, and in some counties in the South West of England they have also been recorded on relatively open, tree-less habitats such as heathland and culm grassland.

Dormice need habitats containing lots of different types of shrubs and trees to ensure a continuous supply of food throughout the year – well, until they hibernate.  When found on development sites the approach is to try and retain the existing habitats.  T

The key to successful mitigation is to ensure that the habitats remain connected to other areas of suitable habitat in the wider area.  Scrub habitats are ideal for dormice and often compensatory planting of scrub forms part of the mitigation strategy. Indirect impacts of developments are also an issue, with residential development bringing with it increased pressure on woodlands from recreational use and predators such as cats.

As a European Protected Species, dormice and their habitats have the highest level of protection afforded them, the same level of protection as bats under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.

This newsflash has just been received from Natural England announcing the withdrawal of its reptile mitigation guidelines.

Consultants and interested parties are being encouraged to provide contributions to the
re-drafting process, but the contact details do not appear to be on the NE web site but can be found on the IEEM web site.

Reptile Mitigation Guidelines withdrawn

All staff involved in planning-related reptile mitigation work should note that following some useful early feedback from ecological consultants, Natural England has decided to withdraw the first edition of the Reptile Mitigation Guidelines (Technical Information Note No. 102, dated 9 September 2011) to enable various points to be clarified and addressed.  This is an important work area, potentially affecting large numbers of planning applications in England, so we wish to ensure that the guidelines are as clear and as widely accepted as possible.

The first edition of the Reptile Mitigation Guidelines is therefore null and void.  All quotes, surveys and technical reports produced by consultants using older guidance (i.e. pre-dating TIN102) will still be acceptable, even if the work continues into 2012.  Any new fee proposals produced can also continue to follow previous guidance until such time as the guidelines have been re-published.  To reduce this inevitable overlap period, the second edition of the Reptile Mitigation Guidelines will be issued as soon as possible, certainly before the start of the next active season for reptiles.

In the meantime, the first edition can be treated as a draft and we are giving interested parties a chance to make additional comments to help us further improve the guidelines.  The deadline for these contributions is 1 January 2012.

The European Commission has published new guidance on Wind Energy developments and Natura 2000.

At over 100 pages in length, the guidance covers both onshore and marine environments and includes a step-by-step procedure for wind farm developments affecting Natura 2000 sites. Baker Consultants will be reviewing this guidance and assessing the implications for our various projects.

For more information on the European Commissions environmental remit click here.

You can download it here to peruse at your leisure.