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Weeks 8-9: Planning & Protecting

Posted: Tuesday 16th December 2014 by OliFoulds

Butterfly transect, Oli Foulds This speckled wood was having a break from trying to challenge every single living thing that went near him, Oli Foulds

Urban development is inevitable but that doesn't mean the destruction of wildlife is as well.

What I did:

  • Went on three planning site visits
  • Assisted with two Local Wildlife Site surveys
  • Assisted with a butterfly transect
  • Checked mammal traps for voles
  • Attended a daisy and umbellifer identification course
  • Visited three sites with Wildlife Site Officers to look at habitat management opportunities and constraints
  • Attended a workshop about the New Environmental Land Management Scheme (replacing the Environmental Stewardship Scheme)

I knew absolutely nothing about the planning system so this is one area that’s taking me a while to get to grips with… Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (DWT) has quite a unique role in that pretty much all of the planning applications made in Derbyshire are sent to DWT so that the ecologists can take a look through the information and use their expertise to decide if all the potential impacts on wildlife have been properly considered and planned for. If a structure is going to be built then this will often come at the cost of wildlife in some way. If you turn ancient woodland into a car park it’s obviously going to make a fairly massive difference to the wildlife in the area (not all cases are quite this clear cut…). The developer therefore has to make sure this impact is assessed. Each planning application will be sent to DWT along with an assessment of the wildlife in and around the proposed development site and also copies of reports of wildlife surveys that have had to be done. In the office I’ve been looking through some of this paperwork and I’ve gone along on some site visits where we’re looking at the area to check the information we’ve received in these reports against what we actually see on site to make sure nothing has been missed.

Yet another role of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is the Local Record Centre for Derbyshire. This means that it holds most of the species records for the whole county and this is really useful when it comes to checking if the right surveys have been done, as we can see which species have been seen in that exact area in the past. These records don’t just come from our surveys but also from sightings on our reserves kindly emailed to us by members of the public. So many people enjoy watching and listening to nature and the fact that many of these people make species records allows the Trust to use this information to do its work and to share this information to try to inspire others to start watching and listening as well.

Clearly if we just downed tools and went off to live in tents this would benefit wildlife in many ways but it’s safe to say that won’t be happening… Urban development is inevitable but that doesn’t mean the destruction of wildlife is as well. Our urban lives have to involve built development and changes to our landscape and there are many ways to accommodate wildlife habitat into these changes. DWT is working hard to try to make sure this is achieved wherever possible and to protect the habitats and species that cannot be moved or compensated for.

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