Alison Fure, Furesfen Ecological Consultancy.
Not many consultants pass records on to biodiversity records centres, although it is in the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management’s code of conduct to do so. I always ask and some clients are pleased to allow their data to be used in this way. A few refuse and obviously we respect this. In any event, reports are usually destined for the planning committee where they will be available on the council’s website for the entire world to see.
As surveyors, we often have privileged access to sites that are devoid of public disturbance and have had years of wonderful herbicide-free neglect. These undisturbed locations can be strongholds for species of conservation concern, populations with restricted distribution, biodiversity target species and other species that tell tales of our trading past. How many consultants have found tower mustard or a patch of acid grassland when undertaking a survey? I’ve tripped over previously unrecorded badgers, heard hooting owls and seen kingfishers on those long nights surveying for bats.
One of the highlights of last year’s bat surveys was seeing house martins feeding young in nests around Clapham Common; but if they’re not recorded, how can we ensure that a valuable patch of wet mud is retained? Once the adders pictured above disperse, what is the likelihood of tracking their small numbers? I was made aware of the presence of dormice at one location purely because the warden’s cat caught one – but there was no written record anywhere.Yet the dormouse is a European protected species requiring specific management techniques and mitigation.
Even if land is lost to development, historical data heightens awareness of what could be found on adjacent locations, helping scope future surveys and having a positive impact on local conservation efforts. We regularly input survey results into a database to create report appendices – so putting it onto a spreadsheet for GiGL is just a matter of a few clicks of the mouse on a rainy January day. In turn, we know that future reports commissioned from GiGL will be more comprehensive, comprising details of our own surveys as well as those of other recorders.