On 7th December Principal Ecologist Dr Graham Hopkins from our Norfolk office ran an ecology course on Habitat and Site Assessment for Invertebrates (his last one with us, as he’ll sadly be leaving the company at the end of the month!). The course is part of our Professional Ecology Series, a programme of CPD ecology courses for ecologists covering a range of different subjects which runs throughout the year. Some of the courses, like this one, are run solely by The Ecology Consultancy and others run in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).
The Habitat and Site Assessment for Invertebrates course examined EU and UK legislation and policy and their various levels of protection for different invertebrates. These include The Habitats Directive, NERC (Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act) 2006: Species of Principal Importance and The Wildlife and Countryside Act. The importance of Special Areas of Conservation (protected sites under the EC Habitats Directive) were also considered.
The course discussed how by protecting widely distributed species, legislation can be used to create a network of protected sites proving beneficial for other species, creating an “umbrella” effect. Such an example was four species of wetland snails Vertigo spp whose wide distribution led to the protection of a network of calcareous wetlands over a large geographic area. The course also highlighted the importance of brownfield sites which are often overlooked, but can act as habitats for a wide range of invertebrates including beetles, wasps, bees, and moths.
It was fantastic to see people from a range of backgrounds getting involved in engaging discussions and highlighting the pros and cons of various laws and policies. Often overlooked during Preliminary Ecological Assessments (as they frequently focus on assessing for suitable habitat for European Protected Species), the course covered a variety of different site assessment methods that can be used. These included the Invertebrate Species-habitat information System (ISIS), as well as various ranking systems, indices and proxies such as the saproxylic index and the fallen timber estimates. Conservation charities such as Buglife are also becoming more vocal in proposed planning applications and their potential implications for invertebrates that may be present.
Graham brought some pinned specimens with him on the train (to the delight of many!) which gave a nice visual insight into the amazing biodiversity of invertebrates in Britain and highlighted why they should not be forgotten when it comes to undertaking site assessments.
Our ecology course programme for 2015 has now ended but if you would like to receive information about our upcoming courses in 2016 then you can subscribe to our Professional Ecology Series newsletter.