Ecology and Biodiversity
The scientific disciplines of ecology and biodiversity are essential for assessing and mitigating the impact humans have on the world around us. As an environmental consultancy, ecology and biodiversity services form one of the core offerings of RSK. When offering these services to clients, we strive to be practical, reliable and responsible.
RSK subsidiaries ADAS and RSK Biocensus, and the dedicated biodiversity team within the International Projects Group, provide practical and commercial ecological consultant services including assessment, interpretation and solutions to a broad, international client base across the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and South East Asia. In addition to our in-house offering, we operate a UK-wide network of more than 750 quality-assured consultant ecologists. This wide geographical spread means that, in the UK, you are usually within 25 miles of an RSK ecologist.
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A network of experts
We have acquired extensive experience by working on a wide range of projects. The structure of our business and the geographical range of our team ensures that we can support projects of any scale, from individual developments to major international infrastructure projects, while ensuring compliance with legislation, lender requirements and international best practice.
Conservation of wildlife is enshrined in law in many countries, including the UK. As such, this is an area where organisations planning to develop or maintain their land could potentially commit a wildlife offence if not correctly advised and guided by a properly qualified and experienced ecologist. There is also an additional risk of delays to timelines or requirements for additional materials and resources when unexpected ecological issues crop up. For example, some species can only be surveyed at certain times of the year so if this window is missed, projects could be delayed for up to a year.
To address these concerns, we provide a full solutions-based service; we are able to take on our clients’ ecological liabilities and support their projects. Early integration of biodiversity management into a project’s lifespan minimises the risk of delays. We take time to explain the reasons why protected species could cause delays so clients can anticipate the need for early surveys and relevant advice. We plan the survey, mitigation and monitoring needs of projects to ensure their objectives are met.
Thanks to the extensive experience of our team, we can provide a wide range of services at an international level. Our ecology and biodiversity services include biodiversity risk management, impact assessments and monitoring plans, critical habitat assessment, world heritage impact assessments, offsetting and developing conservation programmes, stakeholder engagement, capacity building, scoping, terms of reference and biodiversity baseline assessments.
Supporting client needs
Our aim is to help our clients identify and manage the ecological risks affecting their operations or projects by providing pragmatic, expert advice as early as possible. We do this by partnering with clients to understand their businesses then applying our comprehensive understanding of ecology, legislation and policy to their specific requirements.
Our consultants provide scientific and professional ecology and biodiversity services and are experts in many areas such as protected species, habitat classification and assessment, ecological modelling, botany, lower plants and entomology. We support client needs in key service areas including ecology surveys, planning and development, utilities work, large-scale infrastructure schemes, renewable energy projects, ecological research and land management. Our clients, which include oil and gas companies, international lenders and infrastructure developers, trust us to help them achieve project consent, secure project finance and meet consent conditions thanks to our in-depth knowledge of international lending requirements. We provide realistic, pragmatic advice and support on meeting lender requirements, subsequently minimising risks to project schedules and alleviating client concerns.
An international and specialist team
We are proud to be able to offer ecological and biodiversity services throughout all of the UK and internationally. We can provide the full range of biodiversity and ecosystem services functions to international best practice standards including the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) Performance Standard 6, and are experienced at delivering natural world heritage assessments in line with International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) requirements and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) guidelines. We have team members who have lived and worked all over the world, including Africa and Australasia. We have staff who are fluent in French and are comfortable and qualified to work professionally in this language.
Our network includes experienced specialists in all the major ecological disciplines. We can deploy qualified teams of any size rapidly, thereby providing clients with the resources they need to deliver large and challenging projects effectively, on budget and on time.
We are experienced with working in a diverse range of sectors and with contacts from all levels of an organisation, from senior executives and directors to associates. Our objective is to provide clients with a solution that is cost-effective and workable while also helping achieve the consents and/or funding required for a project.
• Ecological baseline surveys
• Ecological clerk of works
• Ecological impact assessment (EcIA)
• Ecological management plans
• Ecological mapping
• Ecological mitigation strategies, including licensed method statements for European protected species and other protected species
• Ecological research, monitoring, modelling and analysis
• Long-term ecological monitoring
• Preliminary ecological appraisal (PEA)
• Scoping studies in preliminary ecological appraisals
• Specialist ecological survey and input to facilitate renewable energy projects such as wind, hydro and solar
• Biodiversity action and management plans for construction and landscapes
• Biodiversity compensation and offsetting
Habitats, species and vegetation management
• Aquatic habitat surveys and diffuse pollution walkover surveys
• eDNA testing
• Extended Phase 1 habitat survey and desk study
• Fish health checks and surveys, and fisheries management and stocking advice
• Fish passage and screening assessments
• Habitat restoration and management
• Invasive plant species advice and management
• Invasive, non-native species surveys and advice
• Protected species surveys and services for a range of species, including great crested newt, reptiles, birds, bats, dormice, otter, water vole and badger
• Rare species translocations
• Vegetation survey and classification
• Macroinvertebrate surveys
• River restoration surveys and advice
• Protected species surveys, mitigation measures and licensing
Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM)
• BREEAM support
• BREAAM assessments
Biodiversity risk management
Early integration of biodiversity management into a project’s lifespan in alignment with the mitigation hierarchy is integral to minimising biodiversity risks. Rapid mobilisation and early identification of biodiversity values and potential impacts facilitate project planning, design and development.
Critical habitat assessment
The presence of critical habitat has implications for a project in terms of mitigation measures, restoration and offsetting. Our team is competent and experienced at evaluating and identifying the high biodiversity values within the zone of influence that qualifies as critical habitat, a key component when aligning a project with IFC PS6/European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Performance Requirement 6/European Investment Bank (EIB) Standard 3, through a combination of desktop reviews, stakeholder engagement, GIS analysis and habitat modelling, and field studies. Early indication of potential critical habitat minimises project-based risks and increases opportunities for our clients.
World heritage impact assessments
We are experienced at delivering natural world heritage assessments in line with IUCN requirements and UNESCO guidelines.
Offsetting and developing conservation programmes
We are experienced at developing offset strategies and programmes for projects based in Australia, the EU and Africa that are driven by regulatory or environmental policies and corporate biodiversity commitments, including projects that comply with IFC/EBRD/EIB requirements. We offer a pragmatic, transparent and technically viable approach to the sustainable offsetting of residual project-related impacts that is based on sound scientific knowledge. We also help projects to form partnerships and gain stakeholder support, which are critical for success and offset longevity.
Biodiversity action and monitoring plans
We develop biodiversity action and monitoring plans that provide a framework for a project to implement mitigation and monitoring measures. This enables our clients to track and evaluate the effectiveness of these actions and inform adaptive management. Biodiversity action and monitoring plans are leading industry practice and necessary for international lender compliance; effective and strategic monitoring are key to ensuring and demonstrating that biodiversity-related commitments are met, which is often essential as part of permitting and operation.
Stakeholder engagement and consultation
Effective and meaningful stakeholder engagement and consultation are vital for successful project design and delivery. The biodiversity team, with support from RSK’s social team, is skilled at supporting projects to initiate and sustain constructive engagement and consultation with governments, non-governmental organisations, affected communities, the private sector and other stakeholders to minimise risks and maximise opportunities. We also help our clients to build the partnerships and relationships necessary for offsetting and establishing conservation programmes.
We provide bespoke training and mentoring in biodiversity surveying and monitoring techniques, equipment use, health and safety in the field, GIS tools and data management and interpretation with the aim of building our clients’ in-house capabilities to support post-permitting commitments and minimise their ongoing consultancy costs.
Scoping, terms of reference and biodiversity baseline assessments
In collaboration with in-country partners, we design and deliver cost-effective and scientifically robust scoping, terms of reference and terrestrial and aquatic ecology baseline assessments to inform decision making during project development. We use a combination of techniques to identify the biodiversity values of a project, existing threats and natural resource use. We work with specialists to minimise costs and delays, and fill knowledge gaps.
Biodiversity impact assessment
We are experienced at delivering terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity, and ecosystem services impact assessments in alignment with legislative requirements, lender compliance and international best practice. We offer an integrated approach to environmental and social impact assessments, standalone biodiversity assessments and reviews of existing impact assessments for quality assurance and compliance.