Good conservation advice can save money and gain you valuable publicity …
If you are planning to change the use of your land or develop your property, knowing which species of animals and plants are to be found there can be of vital importance; it is also often a prerequisite prior to development approval. Such changes range from the effects of creating new leisure uses for land taken out of agricultural or industrial usage, to establishing conservation headlands within farmland; a practice which has been shown to reduce the need for pesticide applications and improve the pollination of crops.
Proposals which change the use of farmland are often criticised as ‘destroying the countryside’. However, there is plenty of scope for change of use without compromising the current delicate habitat balance. Indeed, many opportunities exist to change farmland use, whilst at the same time improving the balance, therefore reducing the negative environmental impact of modern agricultural techniques. An increasing number of grant-aided schemes which aim to conserve the wider countryside are available. These typically require an assessment of the likely conservation gains of any grant applications, including the preparation of management plans. These require up to date information of the habitats and flora and fauna living within them before effective plans can be produced and implemented.
Comprehensive species and habitat surveys,
Mammals, birds, plants and a wide variety of insect groups covered,
Background information for all indicator and key species found,
Habitat assessments and management advice,
Habitat management plans prepared,
Contract work undertaken,
Individual species life history investigation.
Habitat assessment, up until recently, has largely concentrated on birds, mammals and plants. However, it is increasingly recognised that the insect communities present need assessing as well. Such communities may determine whether crops are pollinated efficiently, especially with the potential loss of many honey-bee colonies through the Varroa mite. For example, long-tongued bumblebees are very good pollinators of pea-type flowers, but much current agricultural practice removes essential habitat for these bees. Plagues of pest species are partially the result of the lack of reservoir areas from where their natural predators, such as hoverflies, may expand and so control local population increases on agricultural crops. Showy insects, such as butterflies, enhance the visual impact of countryside leisure facilities and the appreciation of these by the public. Different species of insect have very different habitat requirements and areas must be correctly managed to maintain and, if appropriate, extend the diversity of available habitats.
Planning applications are usually time consuming and costly. A comprehensive survey will help minimise the risk of failure by providing reliable information concerning the flora and fauna which is likely to be affected, and the development of plans which maximise the conservation gains associated with a proposal.