We’re pleased to announce that one of our senior ecologists, Mark Woods, is now a certified Chartered Ecologist.

Mark has been a practicing ecologist for over 25 years. His career to date has included managing nature reserves, conservation in the voluntary sector, consultancy and lecturing. Mark has made a significant contribution to the ecology sector by sharing his knowledge through lecturing at further and higher education levels, including postgraduates, and training adults in practical countryside management and forestry skills. He has been the joint Botanical Recorder (BSBI) for Nottinghamshire for several years.

Mark Woods, pictured far left at a Baker Consultants away day, has just received Chartered Ecologist status

Mark Woods, pictured far left at a Baker Consultants away day, has just received Chartered Ecologist status

Receiving chartered status from CIEEM is a prestigious award. Being accepted to join the Register of Chartered Ecologists is in recognition of an ecologist who has effectively applied a knowledge and understanding of ecology to the highest standards of practice.

As part of the Thorpe Park development in Leeds, we are responsible for translocation and mitigation of great crested newts. Between mid-September and the end of October, we translocated over 2,000 amphibians, representing only a third of the trapping we are due to carry out! Here Katie Watson, our Assistant Ecologist, tells us more about the project that has seen our ecologists monitoring and trapping amphibians along five kilometres of newt fencing.

Great crested newt translocation and mitigation

A daily rota of checking newt traps along the installed newt fencing on site has led to our ecologists translocating 120 great crested newts (which are a protected species) as well as 996 smooth newts, 1,189 toads and 119 frogs from the development area at Thorpe Park, Leeds. So far, a third of the trapping has been completed, with a further third likely to be completed over the next week.

Newt fencing at Thorpe Park business park by Assistant Ecologist Katie Watson

Newt fencing at Thorpe Park business park by Assistant Ecologist Katie Watson

Translocation is essential, as great crested newts are Britain’s largest and most threatened newt, protected under the EU Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). By following Natural England’s mitigation guidance, we aim to maintain and enhance the population by ensuring high quality translocation habitat as well as maintaining strict welfare standards.

Translocation only forms one part of the mitigation measures for great crested newts at Thorpe Park, as pond creation in the translocation area has also been a vital aspect of the project in terms of ecology. The ponds have central open areas for mating displays, encircled by shallow water margins, which are to be planted with translocated vegetation from the marshland habitat at the development site. Spoil has been used to sculpt the terrestrial habitat alongside the water’s edge to create raised earth banks. Woodland and grassland mosaics have also been created using wildflower seedlings and saplings.

Katie Watson, Assistant Ecologist, checking newt traps at Thorpe Park. Photo by Kelly Clark, Principal Ecologist

Katie Watson, Assistant Ecologist, checking newt traps at Thorpe Park. Photo by Kelly Clark, Principal Ecologist

During the initial great crested newt surveys a number of surveying techniques were used including egg search, torchlight surveys and bottle trapping. Since then, eDNA sampling is being used to detect microscopic fragments of DNA biomarkers belonging to great crested newts within waterbodies. This method can be used to determine species occupancy in ponds (i.e. presence/absence) and has the potential advantage of increasing survey efficiency.

About Thorpe Park

Thorpe Park is a business park development in Leeds, currently accommodating 4,500 office workers at several organisations. Current development will expand the facilities for staff on the Park to include a hotel, restaurants and a coffee shop, as well as retail and health & fitness facilities.

With 44% of dedicated green space, Thorpe Park will ultimately have around 7,000 trees, 20,000 shrubs and hedges, 50,000 flower bulbs and 15,000 aquatic plants.

About Baker Consultants

Baker Consultants are experienced in a full range of protected species surveys and mitigation measures, including great crested newts. To maintain the high professional standards expected by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) and our clients, we strictly follow Natural England’s guidelines. For more information, visit our Terrestrial Ecology home page or go directly to our Great Crested Newt Surveys page.

Andrew Baker, our Managing Director, has been invited to speak at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Biodiversity (APPGB); a forum for informed discussion between cross-party parliamentarians, senior policy makers, industry leaders and environmental organisations on biodiversity issues. He will share the stage with Stanley Johnson, formerly of the European Commission and European Parliament, and the RSPB’s Kate Jennings.

Andrew Baker, Managing Director

Andrew Baker, Managing Director

The meeting will discuss the ongoing review of the European Commission’s Habitat and Birds Directives, which form the cornerstone of Europe’s nature conservation policy. The Habitats Directive protects over 1,000 animal and plant species and over 200 habitat types of European importance. The Habitats Directive has been in place since 1992 and the Birds Directive since 2009, when it replaced the 1979 directive on the conservation of wild birds.

This takes place in the context of the ongoing ‘fitness check’ of the Habitats Directive and also under the shadow of the UK’s referendum on UK membership of the European Community. Andrew has been asked to speak to represent the views of ecology professionals operating in the commercial sector.

The meeting is scheduled for 5pm November 17th at Westminster. If you wish to attend, please contact Andrew Callender, Secretariat APPG Biodiversity.

About the speakers

Andrew Baker is an ecologist and Managing Director of Baker Consultants and Baker Consultants Marine. He has a particular interest in nature conservation law and has been an active member of the UK Environmental Law Association for over 10 years. He is a veteran of many public inquiries and has given evidence on biodiversity issues to parliamentary select committees. He is familiar with the sharp end of the Directives and, while he is a staunch supporter of Europe, has often been critical of how the Directives are implemented in the UK.

Stanley Johnson is a well-known environmental professional, having held senior positions at the European Parliament and European Commission. He is a successful environmental writer, having published ten environmental books, and has won high profile environmental awards from the charities Greenpeace, RSPCA and, most recently, the RSPB. He has also been a trustee of several environmental organisations, such as Plantlife and the Earthwatch Institute. He is also the father of Boris Johnson!

Kate Jennings is Head of Site Conservation Policy at the RSPB, a position she has held since 2012. She previously worked as a Site Policy Officer, also for the RSPB, and as Senior Officer and Site Designation Officer for Natural England. She is also Chair of the Joint Links’ Habitats and Birds group, which represents 100 voluntary organisations across the UK.