Given the age and nature of our historical buildings and estates, many of which are rural and perhaps somewhat neglected, it is not surprising that they can be a haven for wildlife.
Bats in particular tend to favour undisturbed, old buildings and traditional architecture, construction materials and methods of building offer a plethora of opportunities to bat species. Attic spaces, haylofts, old stone walls, wine cellars, basements, barns and the tenon-and-mortice joints of old timber frames can all offer shelter and refuge to British bats. It is no wonder then that proposals to renovate or alter historic buildings will almost certainly involve an ecologist, bat surveys and a bat mitigation strategy.
Ecological consultants offer advice and guidance for all types of projects involving wildlife – from renovations, redevelopments, conversions and demolitions through to new builds – in order to conserve the habitats of protected species. For most projects, this involves conducting a number of studies and surveys to determine the best methods for the long-term protection of species such as bats and barn owls.
The Director of Windrush Ecology Ltd., Dr. Ted Bodsworth, said:
“Each species will have very different and specific habitat requirements and so the work we conduct has to reflect this.
“Certain species – bats, the great crested newt and the dormouse – are European protected species and therefore have the highest level of protection throughout the UK and Europe. Where impacts on these species are identified, we must obtain a licence from Natural England to demonstrate that we have plans in place for their continued protection and so there can often be a bit of red tape to work through first.
“If we are assessing a potential bat habitat such as an historic building, we would need to conduct a series of surveys to determine what times the bats are roosting and then we prepare a mitigation strategy based upon this evidence. Careful timing and sensitive work practice is often the key to making a project involving bats work.
“However, in a lot of cases the requirements for protecting wildlife are fairly simple as long as the habitats they use can be retained and enhanced. Simple enhancement measures such as native planting, log piles and bat boxes can be very effective.”
Dr. Bodsworth added:
“The construction industry is becoming increasingly aware of the value of protecting wildlife and there are many simple ways to encourage wildlife to thrive using relatively inexpensive means.
“In the past there was a tendency to call upon the services of an ecological consultant once work got underway but now we’re on board from day one of a project. This allows us to offer input from the very beginning, which ensures a much smoother construction process throughout.
“Most ecologists are enthusiastic natural historians as well as consultants. We’re really lucky to be able to do this as a profession and it’s great to be able to see a project come together whilst important work such as this takes place.”
Windrush Ecology Ltd.
Based in Witney in West Oxfordshire & Wallingford in South Oxfordshire, Windrush Ecology Ltd. is a specialist ecological consultancy providing a service to clients primarily within the counties of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Gloucestershire; although the company is involved in ecological projects throughout southern England and Wales. Windrush Ecology Ltd’s client base covers the private and public sectors and includes developers, government and non-governmental organisations, environmental consultants, private estates, architects, planning consultants, landscape designers and engineers.
Windrush Ecology Ltd’s particular area of expertise is the ecological assessment of historic buildings and landscapes, with a particular focus on bats. Recent projects have involved ecological impact assessment within the park at Blenheim Palace, ecology surveys at Woburn Abbey, Hampton Court Palace, St. Alban’s Cathedral and the ruins of Coventry Cathedral.