Need an ecological survey?

What you should do first

  1. Contact Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre for existing information
  2. Site assessment by a qualified ecologist
  3. Commission any necessary survey work
  4. Ensure surveys are carried out at the appropriate time of year.

Finding out about a site

The first stage in any site enquiry is to find out what information is already available. Regarding the wildlife of a site, this means finding out exactly what wild plants and animals occur there. This stage in a site enquiry is called a desk study and the information it yields is an important part of a baseline ecological report on the site.

Biological information on sites in East and West Sussex and the City of Brighton & Hove is held by Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre. The records may constitute part of a scientifically-planned survey or may simply be casual observations.

The Record Centre can therefore only provide species and habitat information on a site if it is held on its database – this may be a considerable amount of information in the case of some protected areas such as SSSIs which attract the attention of many biological experts, but may be extremely limited in other areas. Generally, if a site has only a small number of species recorded from it, this almost always means that no-one has looked there, NOT that there is nothing on the site. Therefore, consulting the Record Centre does not constitute an ecological survey, neither does it mean that a developer has fulfilled its environmental obligations.

Requesting ecological information of a site from SxBRC is the correct first step and will:

  • Provide details of any protected/designated species records for the site and adjacent land.
  • Identify the location of important habitats in relation to the site.
  • Identify whether the site, or adjacent land, has designated status (international, national or local)

Site assessment

A site assessment should involve a visit to the site by a competent ecologist and an interpretation of the existing baseline data to identify whether any missing information is significant. It may be necessary at this stage to commission survey work to fill significant gaps; for instance, a botanical survey, a breeding bird survey or a bat survey. If there is a pond on or near the site, a great crested newt survey might be needed if this has not already been carried out.

When your site needs more surveys…

Everyone is aware of the changing seasons, but not everyone realises that most groups of wildlife need to be surveyed at particular times of the year for best results. It is generally known that birds nest in spring, but not as well-known that the best time to survey for great crested newts is March – April.

Further information

If you require further information or advice, please contact us or send us an email.