Ecology Summer News

It has been another busy year for our ecology team. After a mild winter and a rainy May the ecology survey season is now in full swing, with the British summer finally upon us. This year, as always, we have been working on a wide range of projects that have taken us the length and breadth of the UK.

In April we were pleased to welcome two new ecologists, Emily Power and Dan Perlaki, who have quickly fitted into the team. Key projects this year have included our work with Lendlease to support their Biodiversity Ecology Nature (BEN) Strategy for the Elephant and Castle Regeneration, alongside monitoring the associated living roofs and green infrastructure features for completed phases. On top of that we have been studying rooftops across the city to measure and map how they are benefitting our urban environment – exploring the hidden wildflower meadows above our streets.

The importance of conserving and enhancing our urban biodiversity is becoming increasingly well understood and widely accepted. Greengage are excited to be riding the wave of this relatively new science, and we’re pleased to say that our Principal Ecologist, Morgan Taylor, will be presenting at the Designing Urban Animal Diversity scientific workshop at the Technical University of Munich https://www.tum.de/en/homepage/ in September on the subject, sharing our experiences of working with urban biodiversity in the UK.

Alongside our urban ecology work we have also been busy out in the field, working on the relocation and conservation of peregrine falcons in Kent, badgers in Sussex and bats in Buckinghamshire. We have also begun to oversee implementation of complex ancient woodland management plans, the restoration and creation of calcareous grasslands, and habitat enhancement schemes on large scale new build residential schemes.

Greengage have continued to run our well received ‘Ecology and Planning’ CPD seminar series, tailored to suit architects, landscape architects, developers and project managers. This presentation aims to tell you everything you need to know about ecology within the planning process.

We shared our knowledge and experience on ecosystem services in April’s RICS Property Journal.  Still a relatively new and divisive topic, the importance of ecosystem service valuation within planning or urban land management is becoming increasingly well understood however. We were excited to apply ecosystem service valuation tools to inform environmental management actions for a major London estate this spring.

Key changes to ecology guidance this year have focused on the new licencing approach for European protected species, most notably great crested newts. Natural England introduced 4 new licencing policies which aim to simplify the process in the future, avoiding costly delays to development, whilst still maintaining the protection of wildlife. We’re yet to fully see how these will be applied, but will make sure to keep our network up to date on the important industry changes.

Of course we have had a year of political uncertainty and therefore also await news of how Brexit may affect the approach taken to nature conservation and planning in years to come. We hope that a pragmatic approach can continue that still enables development yet ensures our important and threatened wildlife can be protected and enhanced for future generations. Our sustainability, CSR and ecology teams at Greengage have been working closely to link the integration of biodiverse space with the benefits afforded to people’s health and wellbeing, undertaking several Ecosystem Service Valuation assessments for major developers and land owners – it pays to protect nature!

Accordingly, we have been working on the design and approach to ecology on several major regeneration programmes, such as the Clapham Park Estate, that aim to bring nature into the heart of new place making, integrating well designed green space within Masterplans for the benefit of developers, future residents and wildlife.

Please get in touch with Morgan Taylor should you have any questions at all on ecology and planning, green infrastructure or ecosystem services.