Botanæco undertakes Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) & Habitats Regulations Appraisal (HRA, including Appropriate Assessment) of effects upon terrestrial and marine habitats at the local and national scale. The development of appropriate mitigation to reduce the intensity of effects is also a key component of Botanæco's activity in this area. So far this has included consideration of atmospheric pollution, construction, recreation & utility effects.
Cost-effective approaches are pursued - the assessment of national effects arising from a power station being completed in a matter of months rather than the years previously taken, through development of an efficient statistical approach, for example. Such effective approaches are based on a technical appreciation of the key issues and the best methods available. Some imagination to visualize the problem in its entirety is also fundamental.
Most recently, Botanæco has been responsible for habitat, vegetation & GWDTE related aspects of the HRA for re-routing the West Highland Way through the Loch Lomond Woods Special Area of Conservation (SAC). This work is being undertaken by the Forestry Commission and the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park Authority. Its aim is to route foot traffic away from operations for removal of non-native plantation, and the restoration of woodland more appropriate to the SAC. This will have significant biodiversity & landscape benefits. Botanæco undertook efficient survey & assessment that considered the protection of designated moss, liverwort and vascular plant species, as well as the habitat as a whole.
HRA of the deposition effects of the withdrawn Ayrshire Power Station posed a particular challenge because these were national in scale. Furthermore, it required the conceptualisation of different levels of deposition predicted in square kilometres, raining onto irregularly-shaped sites with habitat patches of differing sensitivity. An approach combining multivariate statistical analysis in combination with a Geographical Information System was developed. This approach was considered to be the most efficient, repeatable & transparent given the likely interest in its outcomes from a variety of groups. It also provided an answer in 0.5 people-years, a considerable saving over the 5.0 people-years previously required for an assessment of this scope.
More routine activity includes the ecological impact assessment of wind farms and other developments including appraisal of forestry applications.