Botanæco's habitats & vegetation expertise is based on training to PhD level, research, consultancy & practical land management experience in the academic, public & private sectors. This facilitates a genuinely proactive approach that is ratified by the regulators' regular acceptance of Botanæco's conclusions.
Botanæco undertakes accurate, detailed field survey supported by a Geographical Information System and modern data capture equipment. The standard surveys include:
• Phase 1 habitat survey
• 'Extended' Phase 1 habitat survey (that includes faunal species)
• National Vegetation Classification (NVC) of plant communities within habitats
Note that modern legislation has made the 'Phase 1' approach increasingly obsolete but it remains valid, especially when supplemented by NVC to allow assessment of sensitive habitats. Botanæco can advise on the best approach(es) for your situation.
Habitat assessment is undertaken in relation to the following, according to the aims of a project:
• Structural features
• Species richness, evenness & distinctiveness/rarity
• Land management impacts
• Habitat condition & sensitivity
• Local & national conservation priorities
The assessment process is tabulated & mapped to provide a substantiated set of clear conclusions. This ensures that planning can proceed in a timely basis and management prescriptions are suitably targeted.
Practical land management experience, such as of contested grouse moors, ensures that Botanæco's approaches are sensitive to the people associated with a site. This is achieved by taking the time to understand their aspirations and working to provide a number of options that can be negotiated to achieve the best solution. Botanæco recognises that it is often desirable to maintain socioeconomic activity alongside conservation for each to be sustainable.
It is also important to take account of a changing socioeconomic or natural environment so plans are designed to be antifragile and responsive to the outcomes of associated monitoring. To assist this dynamic process, Botanæco produces a 'troubleshooting guide' to take account of singular, seasonal and longer-term variations. Tolerance of extremes is therefore integral to Botanæco's management planning, rather than design to average conditions, to take account of our changing and increasingly extreme climate, for example.
Botanæco has experience of habitats & vegetation throughout the UK and beyond, from the Tyrol to Greenland. This includes contemporary issues such as development/planning, deposition effects &/or grouse moor management; and academic research into past climates, landscapes and human impacts. Such a wide range of activity is underpinned by a knowledge of plants, the habitats they form, & their environment; and application of a contemporary, scientific approach.
The high standard of habitat-related work produced by Botanæco results in regular opportunities to share best practice, most recently with forestry consultancies and in 2018, the Forestry Commission, Scotland. This has come alongside Botanæco's development of a streamlined approach to reporting. This alleviates the increased pressure on technical and workload capacity in the forestry sector, as a result of recent legislation and government targets. It also facilitates investment in our economically challenged uplands.
In more routine activity, throughout 2016 - 2018, Botanæco was commissioned to establish the habitat baseline & assessment of the the Glendye Wind Farm in Aberdeenshire. This large site (22 sq. km.) has been subject to the following surveys & assessments:
• Phase 1 habitat survey
• National Vegetation Classification survey
• Groundwater Dependent Terrestrial Ecosystem survey & assessment
• Peatland Condition Assessment
The baseline & assessment established to date will be further developed in collaboration with the design team to provide the following outputs:
• Habitat components of the Environmental Statement
• Mitigation & ecological enhancement options
• Peat, peatland & habitat management plans
A prominent role in design & development is played by Botanaeco because of concern over peatlands, for example, in terms of design & construction, as well as conservation. With experience of numerous development plants & projects, Botanæco regulalry undertakes such collaborative work & appreciates the need to supply data timeously, in a specific format.