Ecology Terms Demystified

Search the table below find descriptions of common ecology terms and acronyms.

For more examples of different ecological reports, please see our training on Report Writing. Another method for gaining an understanding of different ecological reports is to search local planning portals for ecology reports which are now submitted with most applications from small householder extensions to larger housing developments and commercial projects.

Bat scopingSurvey to assess the potential of a building(s) to support roosting bats as ‘negligible’ ‘low’, ‘moderate’ or ‘high’ suitability according to the Bat Conservation Trust Guidelines. Results presented in a report will prescribe further emergence/re-entry surveys if necessary. Surveys are undertaken by licensed ecologists
Bat emergence Survey at dusk or dawn where all emerging or re-entering bats are recorded along with the emergence/re-entry location on the building/tree, flight paths, species, number of bats and the time recorded. These surveys would determine how many bats may be roosting within a building or tree, in which location and what kind of roost it is. This can help to determine appropriate mitigation and enhancements as well as EPS licences to carry out the works legally.
Bat activity Survey at dusk or dawn to record bat activity on a site, such as a parcel of woodland or field. All commuting and foraging or social calling bats are recorded along with the location, flight paths, species, number of bats and the time recorded. Surveyors walk a pre-set route and stand for 5 to 10 minutes at pre-determined stopping points. These surveys aim to determine the abundance and species of bats that may be using the site, with the time and location of observations used to determine habitat features of value. This will then inform appropriate mitigation and enhancements.
BICBiodiversity Impact Calculation – a calculation using the Defra Metric to determine the percentage of biodiversity change in habitats (i.e. Woodland and improved grassland), linear habitats (i.e. Hedgerows and treelines) and rivers or streams as the result of a development. A report is prepared summarising the change and submitted to the LPA in conjunction with the completed calculation. Planning policy usually requires a 10% net gain in biodiversity through development.
EcIAEcological Impact Assessment – a report that is necessary when it is concluded an impact will take place on ecological features (habitats, species and ecosystems). The process, which is set out in guidance produced by CIEEM is used to first determine the impact that the development may have on the identified important ecological features contained by the site, then subsequently assess the impact once appropriate mitigation and compensation measures have been put in place.
ECoWEcological Clerk of Works – overseeing works on a construction site that have the potential to harm protected species or valuable habitats. This may include a watching brief or hand searches of vegetation prior to its removal. This process is often legally required to implement licenced works such as those outlined within Mitigation Licences for Dormice.
eDNAEnvironmental DNA - method for assessing whether a waterbody supports GCN. Water samples are taken using a specific methodology and sent to labs where genetic material (skin cells, faeces, mucus, sperm or eggs into the water) from this species is tested for.
EPSEuropean Protected Species - receive full protection under The Conservation of Species and Habitats Regulations 2010, which transposes EC Directive 92/43/EEC, known as The Habitats Directive. It includes bats, great crested newts, otters and dormice.
GISGeographic Information Systems – in the context of ecology, this is used to undertake Phase 1 mapping. We use the free software QGIS.
HRA (screening assessment)Habitats Regulations Assessment - we often carry out the screening section for HRAs, which includes information for the council on whether a development within 5km of SPAs or SACs will affect these designated sites due to increased recreational pressure, pollution, hydrological changes and dust etc. These use a very specific and logical format.
HSIHabitat Suitability Index – method for assessing the suitability of a waterbody and surrounding habitat to support GCN using a number of pre-set indicators and a calculation.
LEMPLandscape and Ecology Management Plan - Prescribed enhancements for a proposed development to increase valuable habitat for protected species. Common enhancements can include native tree and hedgerow planting, high value scrub creation, wildflower meadow creation, installation of bird and bat boxes (either on buildings or mature trees), insect towers, and ponds.
LNRLocal Nature Reserve – statutory designation made by councils within the UK due to its importance for wildlife, geology, education or public enjoyment.
LPALocal Planning Authority - eg. Mid Sussex District Council
NNRNational Nature Reserve – designated under section 35 of the Wildlife and Countryside 1981. Natural England often manages these sites.
PEAPreliminary Ecological Appraisal – survey and report to describe the baseline ecological condition of the site, outline important ecological features. This should not be submitted to the council, but is for the client, to decide if further surveys will be necessary.
Phase 1 Phase 1 Habitat survey - a comprehensive walkover survey typically conducted on larger development sites (more than 1 hectare). The survey provides a basic assessment of habitat type as well as any potential importance for nature conservation.

The report should summarise the potential for any protected species that may be present on or adjacent to the development area and detail the need (if necessary) for further survey effort or mitigation. A habitat map will also be produced using GIS software.
Phase 2 SurveysSurveys undertaken for protected species to understand if they are present on the site, their population size and distribution. Data to be used to inform mitigation, EPS licences and enhancements.
Presence/absence SurveySurveys undertaken to determine the presence or likely absence of a species or taxa from a site. Includes surveys for reptiles, GCN and dormice.
SACSpecial Area of Conservation – internationally protected area of land, sea or water of importance due to the presence of species listed on Annex I and II of the Habitats Directive.
SPASpecial Protection Area - internationally protected area of land, sea or water of importance to breeding, feeding, wintering or the migration of rare and vulnerable species of birds.
SSSISite of Special Scientific Interest – nationally designated site protected due to rare habitats, fauna or flora that it supports.
UKHabUK Habitat Classification – a recently developed more comprehensive method for classifying habitats. It covers terrestrial and freshwater habitats and can be used in a wide range of initial surveys to produce a habitat map.