Ecological Planning & Research
phase 1 & botanical surveys
Do you need practical professional advice on the vegetation and flora of a site?
Do your plans for development include nearby habitats that are protected or of conservation importance may be present?
What we can do for you:
Accurate descriptions of the vegetation and flora of a site are fundamental to the evaluation of its significance, and thorough survey is important to get this right.
For most of our work we adopt a phased approach to survey, which starts at the ecological appraisal stage. This includes a desktop study, and a walkover survey of the site so that we are able to map and assess the habitats and ecological features present, including the potential for habitats to support protected species and species of conservation value. This will give us a much better idea of the ecological issues, scope out those issues which are not relevant, and help target any additional survey tasks that may be necessary.
If further botanical/vegetation surveys are considered necessary EPR’s expert team of botanists will ensure that botanical survey and reporting is undertaken to the highest standards using the National Vegetation Classification (NVC) system.
We are able to survey not only flowering plants, but also mosses and lichens, and accurately interpret the survey information to provide a base for describing the quality and significance of a site.
This advanced level of survey can be a very powerful tool for carrying out impact assessments of development projects; for example, many lichens are sensitive to
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certain types of air pollution, meaning that understanding their distribution can help inform a development scheme and any necessary mitigation and deliver a more robust proposal.
Botanical surveys can also help to derive useful information that can inform proposals to restore or create new habitats, and to transcribe these into ecological enhancement proposals that can be delivered in conjunction with development; maximising the prospects of both planning success and positive outcomes for biodiversity. In addition to the above, we have extensive experience of surveying for the specific rare plant species that receive special protection under conservation legislation, or also those that are listed as non-native invasive species or injurious weeds, and writing management plants for these as appropriate.
As a practice we have particular expertise in landscape and historical ecology, which gives us an insight into the past, present and potential future of the botanical aspects of an area. This can be of real benefit in feeding into scheme design and developing appropriate mitigation which enhances the weight and confidence that consultees such as Natural England have with our work, and therefore increases the likelihood of a planning success.
Our botanical team is not only skilled in ecological fieldwork; they are practiced at obtaining and interpreting historical maps, aerial photos and other records, which can provide surprising insights. For example, the presence or absence of woodland areas on old maps, when corroborated with field data, can help to determine whether an area of woodland is Ancient or not and therefore whether it requires additional protection in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Similar principles also apply with other habitats, particularly old grasslands.