Groundwater Dependent Terrestrial Ecosystems (GWDTE)


Groundwater Dependent Terrestrial Ecosystems (GWDTE) can prove problematic to plans & projects because they fall between the traditional areas of ecology & hydrology.  Botanæco removes this problem by having the technical capacity to undertake ecological survey and hydrological assessment of GWDTE.  This cost-effective approach removes the need for two teams of specialists and is summarised in the GWDTE Decision Tool available as a download below. 


Survey is undertaken according to the relevant development or forestry guidance that requires identification of potential GWDTE according to the National Vegetation Classification.


Site-specific assessment of potentially sensitive GWDTE is necessary to screen-out those that are actually surface water dependent.  In practise, this can remove up to 100% of the potential constraint posed by 'GWDTE' that are not actually groundwater dependent.


GWDTE have been a core area of activity for Botanaeco since their introduction to the planning system.  This includes their integration into routine habitat survey, 'trouble shooting' and training for the regulatory, wind farm & forestry sectors.  To date, the regulators have ratified Botanæco's approach through acceptance of the baseline & conclusions provided for more than 60 sites of up to 50 sq. km. in extent.  

An especially challenging GWDTE problem in 2017 was a forestry site situated above the Cambusurich Wood SSSI by Loch Tay.  A series of springs within the proposed forestry was claimed to support an area of wet woodland within the SSSI.  Botanæco was able to demonstrate this was not the case by establishing that water from the springs was diverted away from the wet woodland by small watercourses.  This, and the water chemistry related by the vegetation, revealed that groundwater was emerging directly beneath the wet woodland of the SSSI.  Hydrological connectivity would not therefore be breached by the forestry situated between it and the springs further upslope.

Although Botanæco's findings & conclusions were initially rejected by Scottish Natural Heritage on an unclear basis, a site visit with the Forestry Commission, Scottish Environment Protection Agency,  Scottish Natural Heritage and the client (Scottish Woodlands) confirmed their validity and objections were removed.

This example demonstrates the trust that is required between client and consultant when situations become conflicted, and the faith that clients have in Botanæco.  It also demonstrates the quality of baseline & assessment provided to clients & regulators, and Botanæco's own conviction in providing & defending this.

Further information

If you would like further information then please send an email or call Dr Andy McMullen, Principal Botanist & Director of Botanæco, on 01356 650410.