Summer 2018 Newsletter

Find out what Norfolk Wildlife Services has been up to over the Spring and Summer 2018. Read highlights of our projects and work in our 2018 summer newsletter, or alternatively you can select individual articles from the newsletter below.

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Keep in touch, if you need any advice or protected species surveys undertaken please contact us!

Hazardous tree inspection for TPO

NWS Aborist Jim Allitt recently advised on the management of a substantial oak tree subject to a Tree Preservation Order and within the Broads National Park.

Our client, Mr Coleman, had concerns over the extent of deadwood in the canopy, especially where it was close to his and a neighbouring property, but as also keen to retain it as a beautiful feature of his home.

Mr Coleman asked NWS to determine the condition of the tree and make future management recommendations. The tree was surveyed to look at issues such as weak unions or forks, cavities, and especially any defects hidden higher in the canopy.

Hazard tree feature – Branch failure

Sometimes hazards are obvious but subtler hazards may go unnoticed and mechanical failure may occur without specialist management.

Under the Occupiers’ Liability Act (1957 and 1984) the ‘occupier of the land’ where the tree is rooted has a duty of care to ‘take reasonable steps to prevent or minimise the risk of personal injury or damage to property’, both for visitors to the occupiers land (1057) and other persons (1984). The law is quite complicated.

To avoid or deal with risks while retaining the tree, a reasonable and balanced approach to future management requirements is needed, with a full understanding of calculated risk involved. In this case, NWS suggested a 2m, crown reduction and to clear larger deadwood from the canopy so that ‘sailing’ from the wind stressed the branch unions less.

Aerial tree inspection by Jim

Since the tree was protected, the works had to be agreed with the local planning authority, the Broads Authority. NWS’s successful application demonstrated that the works retained the screening the tree provided but were also necessary to reduce the risk the tree posed to the adjacent house and property.

Trees as assets : 7 rules for designing with trees

Trees on a site increase visual attractiveness, are great for wildlife and add considerably to property values. Maximising use of existing tree assets in designs will maximise the financial benefits for new developments. Here are NWS’s 7 tips:

  1. To maximise value from tree assets start at the concept stage; here a simple tree survey will suffice: a ‘Tree Constraints Plan’ with ‘Root Protection Areas’ (RPA).
  2. RPAs are minimum core areas to protect your trees; seek specialist advice if RPA conflicts with your design as to whether redesign is required.
  3. On sites with many trees, use BS5837 categorisation to prioritise the importance of individual trees, based on amenity, wildlife and landscape value.
  4. Allow room for future growth based on tree’s longevity; shading plans help design building orientation and fenestration.
  5. Allow for “hidden” issues for trees such as visibility splays, drainage (esp SUDS) and utility connection; trees with faults may need intervention to help them.
  6. An Arboricultural Impact Assessment (AIA) will help when instructing the contractor to protect trees plus organise site clearance, construction and final landscaping and planting.
  7. Find an arborist you can work with, seek their advice early and get their regular input.

If you are interested in how much your trees might add in value to your site, there are various techniques from the Capital Asset Value for Amenity Trees (CAVAT) through to ecosystem services calculations.

Jim calculates a tree’s RPA

 

Mason Bees

An often-heard concern each spring and summer is “bees are destroying my house!” Residents of older buildings will notice bees industriously excavating their south-facing brickwork, and understandably worry that this will compromise the building.

These bees are one of the several species of mason bees in the UK. The commonest is the red mason bee (Osmia bicornis). The red mason bee (like most bees) face a range of pressures, including habitat loss, pesticides, disease and climate change. They are hugely important pollinators of our crops and flowers, the red mason bee being particularly effective at pollinating fruit trees.

Unlike honeybees and bumblebees, mason bees are ‘solitary’, meaning neither living in colonies nor having workers. Once mated the females cleans out an existing hollow (e.g. gaps in window frames, roof tiles or airbricks ) or excavates one from soft mortar or sandy material.

Red mason bee

Within these tunnels she moulds a series of cells, laying an egg in each, fills with pollen and finally sealing with mud. Over the year, eggs develop via larvae and pupae into an adult bee – digging their way out the following spring to begin the cycle again.

Most of the time, the effect of mason bees is inconsequential. They are often attracted to a wall because its’ mortar is very old and/or in poor, soft condition. In very large numbers however (and/or with unmaintained pointing) they can lead to significant damage, particularly if there is water ingress.

Why not try to give them an alternative nesting place besides your house by installing a bee hotel. These need to be in a sunny sheltered spot, > 1m off the ground and near a rich source of flowering plants.

INVERTEBRATE SURVEYS: Ask us about our specialist site surveys for insects, arachnids and molluscs etc., including river and coastal habitats.

Sally McColl gains full membership of CIEEM

After much hard work and an extensive application process, NWS is delighted to announce that Sally McColl, Lead Ecological Consultant, has recently gained full membership of the Chartered Institute of Ecologists and Environmental Managers (CIEEM) and is entitled to use the suffix MCIEEM.

Sally McColl surveying for great crested newts

CIEEM is the accreditation body for these professions in the UK. Its mission is both to raise the profile of the profession and to promote high standards to practice. All CIEEM members agree to adhere to the Code of Professional Conduct which give our clients confidence that our work is to the high professional standards set by CIEEM.

NWS is proud to be sponsoring all our staff to gain professional membership. Ben Moore and Ben Christie have also achieved CIEEM membership.

Mitigating for bats in buildings

Following bat surveys, a site licence for bats (European Protected Species Licence) from Natural England is often required before development works can take place.

Where bats are affected by building works, a licenced mitigation strategy must be provided. This can include many different options such as special bat lofts’ bat boxes and access tiles and even stand-alone buildings bat-cotes.

The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management and Exeter University have recently published a study looking at what does and doesn’t work effectively.[1] Its conclusions were that:

  • Retaining existing bat roosts as far as possible “in situ” the development, even if modified, has the best outcome for bats, particularly when associated with re-roofing works;
  • Special ‘bat lofts’ within buildings worked better than bat boxes;
  • Bats may take several years to colonise newly built roosts, irrespective of bat lofts of boxes.

We are currently providing mitigation advice for a building conversion at Barnham Broom, which includes a brown long-eared bat maternity roost. The clients set-a-aside part of the barn to create a new roost area exclusively for bats. When we visited 1-year post-construction, there were bat droppings and an adult brown long-eared bat already using the ‘bat loft’. Our client, Julie Eagle was delighted “I am thrilled bats are continuing to use our site, and we want to encourage all wildlife here.”

Please contact us to discuss your project, and how best to incorporate bat mitigation strategies and licensing into your development.

[1] https://www.cieem.net/bat-mitigation-strategies-research-project

Brown long-eared bat

Framework wins for newts and agri-environment

NWS has won places on two major frameworks with Natural England and DEFRA in open national competitions. Firstly NWS has won a place on Natural England’s eDNA ‘great crested newt’ survey framework, via our strength in logistical management and specialist herpetology skills. this is an innovative project which will provide baseline distributions for new approaches to newt licencing.

Great Crested Newt on hand

Shortly after NWS won onto the DEFRA framework for botanical monitoring of agri-environment schemes to investigate the effect and efficiency of the English schemes. Collaboration with our supply chain and partners in other Wildlife Trusts consultancies was an important factor.

The government nationally holds a target of 33% spending with SMEs by 2022, and both Natural England and DEFRA are committed towards strengthening engagement with SMEs.

These tenders represent a positive opportunity for NWS to fly the flag Norfolk business and the Wildlife Trusts in national procurement.

Vattenfall partners NWS in best practice health and safety

Vattenfall is one on Europe’s leading generators of electricity and heat. Vattenfall pride themselves on their health and safety standards, protecting their people at work, and are committed to attaining high standards for the safety or employees and contractors.

They are also committed to working in strong partnerships that challenge themselves and their contractors to drive constant improvements in H&S standards.

For our 2018 ecological surveys, additional investment from Vattenfall has allowed NWS to apply new H&S observation systems and First Aid training, achieving a 100% First Aid certification rate for all field staff.

Chris Smith of NWS said ‘NWS is delighted to have received this additional commitment from Vattenfall for our surveyors in the field’.

Nicky in full transect PPE