As the autumn nights draw in your golf club’s attention may be turning to course refurbishment, landscaping or extensions.
Perhaps tree removal, pond cleaning or changing the management structure of the grassland rough needs to be tackled when fewer golfers are out on the fairways.
Something course managers and groundstaff may not have considered, in their planning, is the impact of this type of work on the wildlife that also use the area. Maybe they need the advice of a qualified CIEEM ecologist?
STRI’s senior ecologist, Bob Taylor, discusses the steps that need to be deliberated, by a golf club, before they start any work.
Why do I need an ecologist?
The most common reason to call on an ecologist is a development proposal. Projects could have an impact on important or legally protected wildlife (species and habitats).
If the project goes through planning, the planning authority may conclude that an ecological survey and assessment is required to support an application. Some local authorities have checklists or guidance that can assist in identifying ecological requirements.
Be aware that some surveys cannot be undertaken in certain seasons or weather conditions. Discuss the timetable for your project with your architect, planning consultant or ecologist as soon as possible to discover any constraints that an ecological survey may reveal.
If your project is not going through planning, known as general management, the responsibility falls to the golf club to recognise the need for survey.
General management can cause disharmony with wildlife such as bats, great crested newt, dormice, stag beetles and various European protected species.
As certain groups of wildlife have international protection, it is imperative that a species survey is considered.
How do I find an ecologist?
There are a wide range of ecological consultancies from large multi-nationals to individuals to choose from. Many will have specific expertise in wildlife assessment and planning, however, very few have the expertise and or knowledge of golf. This is critical when dealing with golf clubs as so often the recommendations run inextricably alongside the playing of the game.
STRI can help you find the specific services that you are looking for.
Do you need assistance with a specific group of animals (e.g. bats) that require a very particular expert?
Has your local planning authority requested screening as part of the Habitats Regulations (Appropriate Assessment) for potential impact on designated conservation sites?
Do you require a more general ecological survey, often known as a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal? A Preliminary Ecological Appraisal is an initial assessment of the current ecological conditions of the site. It will cover the principal issues of concern and where management and improvement is required. This type of survey will also help identify the likely impacts of any development proposal.
Would a longer term Management Plan suit your needs best? This is a mapping process where areas over the course are identified and provided with bespoke management solutions.
Why engage a CIEEM ecologist?
STRI ecologists are full members The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM), the recognised professional body for ecologists and environmentalists.
CIEEM members have demonstrated that they meet the standards expected of the CIEEM’s membership grade and have agreed to abide by its Code of Professional Conduct.
CIEEM membership provides reassurance to clients on the standard of competence of the ecologist. Members are also required to undertake continuing professional development, every year, through a wide range of training opportunities available to them through the Institute.
The Institute also has a complaints procedure that the client can use if they feel that the work undertaken has not been to the required standard.
If you are appointing an ecologist who is not a member of CIEEM, do consider how you will assess their competence to do the work required and, if you have concerns over their work in the future, how this could be resolved.
The golf club itself could capitalise on the fact that all ecology work is CIEEM approved and STRI can provide documentation to demonstrate this.