BRITISH ECOLOGICAL SOCIETY FEATURE: A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AN ASSISTANT ECOLOGIST

Baker Consultant’s newest member of the team, Assistant Ecologist Isabel Commerford, was interviewed by the British Ecological Society Niche magazine about her experience of leaving University and starting her first job during Covid19.  The article featured in the Autumn edition of the magazine and will be available to read soon at: https://www.britishecologicalsociety.org/membership-community/the-niche/

In the British Ecological Society feature Isabel outlined her experience of leaving University and starting her first job during Covid19. Isabel was awarded a bursary from Ecology Resources Ltd which was facilitated by the BES and has helped her make a strong start to her career in Ecology.  She joined Baker Consultants straight from her third year at Manchester Metropolitan University and commented on the experience, “Finishing University can be an unnerving experience for most, but then your last term gets cut short and you’re expected to do exams online, hit the ground running and start a career all during a pandemic. It’s been a challenge!”

“Times are hard right now for those in the early stages of their career, I know I’ve been really lucky to start a graduate job whilst so many of my peers are having to put their plans on hold due to Covid-19. My advice to those at a temporary stand still would be to use this time to develop your field and identification skills. There are so many online resources and learning opportunities (many of which are free!) take a look on websites such as the BES, CIEEM and Field Studies Council for webinars to get involved in.”

“I’m loving my new position with Baker Consultants, the work is so varied and interesting. I have learnt so much in the past 6 months but am looking forward to continuing developing my skills ” said Isabel in her interview.  So we thought we’d put together an article showcasing some of the jobs she has been involved in during her first 6 months with us.

Earlier in the year, Isabel was pictured on our social media timelines engaged in the business of badger bait marking and inspecting Badger latrines in south Oxfordshire, but her job has encompassed a far wider range of activities than just this!

BRITISH ECOLOGICAL SOCIETY FEATURE: A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AN ASSISTANT ECOLOGIST

Isabel joined the company in April at the beginning of the bat survey season. She has been involved in many different projects using a variety of survey methods for bats. Survey objectives range from determining the presence or absence of bat roosts, bat activity surveys or building inspections for their potential to support bats. The picture above was taken by Isabel during a nocturnal emergence survey of a building in Mansfield. Here she was recording bat echolocation calls using an Echo Meter Touch and Ipad to identify the species whilst also looking for any bats emerging from the building when a cockchafer beetle landed on her hand.

Isabel joined the company in April at the beginning of the bat survey season. She has been involved in many different projects using a variety of survey methods for bats. Survey objectives range from determining the presence or absence of bat roosts, bat activity surveys or building inspections for their potential to support bats. The picture above was taken by Isabel during a nocturnal emergence survey of a building in Mansfield. Here she was recording bat echolocation calls using an Echo Meter Touch and Ipad to identify the species whilst also looking for any bats emerging from the building when a cockchafer beetle landed on her hand.

Here Isabel is undertaking a reptile survey in Nottinghamshire to gain an understanding of common lizard population size and distribution. Mats are placed throughout the site and checked by an ecologist on multiple occasions. Reptiles use the mats as a heat source and will bask on or under them.

Next steps for Isabel include attending a QGIS course with the Field Studies Council and a bat ecology course run by CIEEM to develop new skills that will be helpful for her job as an Assistant Ecologist. She is looking forward to developing her data analysis and report writing skills on a variety of different projects. She will be expanding her knowledge in the application of Biodiversity Net Gain and is eager to help the team with field work such as habitat surveys during the winter months with the company.

Baker Consultants provide a wide range of ecology consultancy services from bat surveys on domestic properties and badger bait marking surveys on farmland to estate management planning and consultancy on SPAs and SSSIs.

For all enquiries, please get in touch with the team on info@bakerconsultants.co.ukYou can also get in touch with us via our contact form on the website, or by phone on +44 (0)1629 593958.

Biodiversity in National Parks

The Impact On Landowners In The Pledge To Protect 30% of The Countryside

As a long standing member and former convenor of the UK Environmental Law Association’s Nature Conservation Work Group it is always a pleasure to attend the meetings and participate in lively debate. Our latest meeting (via Zoom of course) was on Monday 5th October, when Ned Westaway, barrister of Francis Taylor Building, gave a thought provoking presentation under the title Protected Landscapes & Nature Conservation’ (Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks). The talk was offered in the context of Ned’s success in the recent Stubbs case and the Prime Minister’s recent commitment to protect an additional 30% of English Countryside for biodiversity. The majority of the 30% will be the National Parks and AONB which cover 26% of England.

Biodiversity In National Parks in England

England’s National Parks have a poor record when it comes to protection of biodiversity. The decline of high value habitats is well documented, for example since the Peak District was designated a National Park it has lost 97% of its traditionally managed hay meadows. To be fair to the National Parks, this loss occurred primarily because they have no additional legal powers to protect wildlife. The National Parks and Access to the Countryside 1949 Act that established National Parks in England, was focused almost entirely on protection of the landscape rather than wildlife.  Subsequent revisions to the 1949 Act (e.g. the Environment Act 1995) did very little to change the lack of wildlife protection. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categorises National Parks into six levels, UK National Parks falling to category five, the second lowest level ‘Protected Landscape/Seascape’. This has led many to be very critical of the English National Parks with some observing that in many instances preservation of landscape is put above biodiversity conservation.

The Need For Legislative Change

This is of course a time of great legislative upheaval, with both the Environment Bill and the Agriculture Bill progressing (albeit slowly) through Parliament. Both of these Bills could bring profound changes to land management that could be very positive for nature conservation and habitat restoration. The requirement in the Environmental Bill for most development to secure 10% biodiversity net gain (BNG) is already having a considerable impact on the development industry. BNG payments may offer the funding mechanism for achieving the restoration of biodiversity of England’s protected landscapes with a proportion of the tariffs collected being diverted to these areas.

If the PM is to meet his pledge it seems that the first step required will be to address the legislative deficit within protected landscapes. The National Parks will require the laws necessary to protect what is left but also instigate a huge programme of restoration of biodiversity in National Parks.

Expert Ecology Support

Andrew Baker is Baker Consultant’s Managing Director and a senior member of the ecology profession, often called upon by barristers to stand as an expert witness and who has been involved in many high profile cases in his career.  Andrew’s other key areas of expertise are nature conservation law, Habitats Regulations Assessment and bioacoustics and he has been following developments in Biodiversity Net Gain policy making closely. For more information or advice get in touch via our contact form on the website, you can call us on +44 (0)1629 593958  or email us on info@bakerconsultants.co.uk.