About Habitat Creation & Management

Habitat creation forms a key part of our consultancy work.  New developments increasingly need to mitigate for losses of habitats through the creation of new wildlife habitats. These habitats can range from erection of bat and bird boxes to large scale wetland, woodland and meadow creation.

We ensure that all newly created wildlife habitats use native species that are typical of the locality and will benefit those species associated with a site or ones that will be attracted to it. Habitat creation should always focus on maximising biodiversity gain not just for rare species but also more common species assemblages associated with a locality. By maximising habitat diversity appropriate to geographical location you maximise potential biodiversity gain and enhancement.

Careful design and location of such features is also critical, by providing increased habitat connectivity and linkages with wider natural habitats, the potential colonisation of new habitats by new species increases considerably. Relatively subtle and small changes to habitats such as providing a few metres of wild field margins or buffer zones alongside watercourses can greatly enhance ecological diversity.

Once new habitats are created and established they require a commitment to long term ecological maintenance and management. Whilst it is desirable to allow new species to colonise naturally, If left unmanaged habitats will often become dominated by less desirable vigorous species that out compete other more desirable species leading to a consequent reduction in biodiversity. Our approach to ecological management aims to manage sites and habitats in such a way that maintains maximum biodiversity. In order to achieve this, typical management practices include removal of colonising scrub and trees, mowing of grassland areas, de-silting of ponds and periodic removal of colonising pond vegetation. All management methods should be informed by long term monitoring.

Our Habitat Creation & Management Services

Pennine Ecological have a long established track record of major habitat creation and management works. We provide a complete design and construction service in relation to any wildlife habitat creation works and subsequent management. We have particular expertise in pond / wetland habitat creation and management. However, we can also undertake native tree / shrub / hedgerow planting and laying and wildflower meadow creation.

We design amphibian / wildlife friendly ponds typically in relation to mitigation for developers and as part of great crested newt licence work. However, we can also provide the same service for any individual or organisation wanting to create a wildlife pond.

The ideal locations for new ponds are within existing ground depressions or hollows which overlay clay – ideally high density puddling clay. Where this is not the case we use specialist bentonite liners. This high density fine clay material is impregnated within a matting system which is installed through the use of a specialised rig. Careful ground preparation is required before laying a bentonite matt layer onto a blinding layer of sand to prevent large sharp objects puncturing the liner. A thin layer of soil is then placed on top of the liner, before filling with water.

A bentonite liner has many advantages over artificial pond liners such as butyl. Bentonite absorbs water and swells to several times its particle size when immersed. This allows hand planting of native aquatic plants directly into the liner which is self-sealing when submerged.

We can supply most native aquatic plants which are propagated from native stock in aquatic nursery beds.

In addition, ponds are better located in an open field situation with minimal shading. Dense shade cast by trees or tall vegetation reduces light infiltration which in turn reduces oxygen levels. Excessive leaf litter falling into ponds decreases oxygen levels in the water creating lifeless anaerobic conditions and deep layers of organic debris.

We also undertake pond conservation management and restoration including deepening, vegetation clearance and thinning of both aquatic plants and bank vegetation. We can also undertake tree and hedge planting / management.

Examples of our Habitat Creation & Management work

Numerous ponds / wetlands and wet scrapes for amphibian / wetland bird species across northern England and the midlands.

Pond management including native species planting, vegetation control and de-silting.

Native tree planting, hedge planting / laying, native wildflower meadow establishment and biotechnical river erosion solutions.

Habitat Creation & Management Case Study

Hic Bibi Local Nature Reserve, Chorley

Under a special Natural England conservation licence, we undertook a major pond creation and restoration scheme for a site supporting a high population of great crested newts. This involved the creation of five new ponds and restoration / enhancement of of another four ponds. The work also included scrub control and creation of log pile hibernacula. This important work was undertaken to ensure the survival of a large population of great crested newts which were declining due to ponds drying out and excessive swamp and scrub development.

Following the completion of the works monitoring surveys confirmed that all new and restored ponds supported healthy populations of the species with increasing numbers year on year.

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