The term ‘great crested newt mitigation’ usually triggers images of miles of expensive plastic fencing and pitfall traps. However, consideration to green infrastructure can provide higher quality mitigation for development schemes, and could be a better use of resources.
Sara King BSc (Hons) ACIEEM
OK, so money doesn’t physically grow on trees but thanks to Natural Capital Accounting methods natural habitats including trees, woodlands, and other habitats are increasingly being given a value. This value is referred to as Natural Capital and aims to assess the value of natural habitats to inform economic decisions. For example, woodlands have value on both a social and biodiversity level, as well as value for carbon storage and timber production. We all know that green open spaces have value. Quantifying this indicates its natural capital.
Renewable energy schemes are controversial, and usually require a range of ecology surveys to assess the full impact on protected species, particularly bats and birds. They are usually associated with having a negative and detrimental impact on ecology and protected species.
A recent study has assessed the value of the Natura 2000 network, a European network of protected wildlife sites, to be €300bn a year. This is the equivalent of 2-3% of the European Union GDP. The estimated value of the site network is far higher than the current funding allocated to preserving the sites, and justifies continued or even increased funding of nature protection at the European scale.
It’s that time of year again; the first frogs are spotted in garden ponds and ecologists begin to think about donning their waders in preparation for the great crested newt survey season. This involves endless long evenings setting out bottle-traps in which to catch great crested newts and returning early each morning to count their catch.