8 February 2018
Barry Clarkson, WYG, Principal Ecologist, shares insight into his ongoing tree-climbing adventures as he surveys trees and their potential bat roosting features for the presence or sign of bats. Barry has a Natural England Level 2 Class licence for bats and holds bat survey licences from Natural Resources Wales and Scottish Natural Heritage.
Watch Barry’s video and read more about why our ecologists climb trees to support their client’s projects although it comes with a warning. This video is not for the faint hearted and contains time-lapse speeds and dizzying tree-top height climbs!
Can you tell us about your project?
We carried out climbed inspections of three large beech trees in Northern Ireland for a client recently. The purpose of the climb was to identify whether the features, recognised on the trees during ground level surveys, had suitability to support roosting bats. Without the inspection, the client would need to wait until the active bat season (May – August) to see if any species were roosting via dusk and dawn surveys with bat detectors.
With climbing equipment and an endoscope, we inspected the features at close quarters and assessed two of the three trees as unsuitable for bats i.e. crevices were too shallow and too exposed to the elements. The third tree qualified as potentially suitable, so more surveys will likely be required during the active bat season.
Who you were working with?
We always undertake climbed tree inspections in pairs for Health and Safety reasons. On this occasion, I worked with Consultant Ecologist, Emmanuelle Amiral, who is based in our Cardiff office.
Why do ecologists have to climb trees?
Climbed inspections are an excellent way of inspecting potential roost features outside the active bat season. This can speed up the survey process as, if trees are identified as having negligible or low suitability to support roosting bats, no further surveys are required.
This gives the client the option to progress with work and submit planning applications earlier, preventing delays whilst they wait for the ecological survey season to start. Undertaking climbed inspections can also result in downgrading trees to lower suitability as the features can be looked at in detail to determine just how suitable they really are. This can lead to a reduction in the number of bat activity surveys that might otherwise have been recommended during the active season, saving clients’ money and allowing planning applications/works on site to commence more quickly.
Climbed inspections particularly benefit tree-rich sites with numerous potential bat roosting features as they require additional bat activity surveys. On average, two surveyors can climb five trees per day, granting clients significant cost savings. To negate risk for the climber, they can sometimes climb a healthy neighbouring tree to inspect other features even where the tree which requires inspection is deemed unsafe.
Did you know?
All British bat species in England are protected by Schedule 2 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 and Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). It is, therefore, illegal to harm any bat or damage bat roosting places.
Find out more