What are Protected Species Licences?

Bats, hazel dormouse, great crested newts, natterjack toad, sand lizard and otters are European Protected Species. As such, to undertake some surveys and handling of these species, you must hold the relevant survey licence from Natural England. There are different levels of licence depending on what type of surveys you wish to undertake. The licence types are listed below:

  • Great crested newts: survey or research level 1 licence – allows surveying for GCN using hands, nets, torching, aquatic funnel traps (including bottle traps)
  • Great crested newts: survey or research level 2 licence – also allows for use of pitfall traps
  • Hazel dormice: survey or research licence (level 1) – allows you to survey hazel dormice by hand, including handling them in their nests, nest tubes and nest boxes.
  • Hazel dormice: survey or research licence (level 2) – allows you to also mark dormice by clipping their fur
  • There are multiple Levels of bat survey or research licences depending on what you aim to do:
    • Level 1: allows you to disturb bats using torches when doing surveys, research or conservation work.
    • Level 2: allows you to disturb bats using your hand, artificial light, endoscopes and hand-held nets to surveys for science research and education.
    • Level 3: allows you to use mist nests and acoustic lures when doing surveys, research or conservation work.
    • Level 4: allows you to use harp traps and acoustic lures when doing surveys, research or conservation work.
  • Natterjack toad, and rare reptiles like smooth snake and sand lizards: you will need a licence to survey for these species. You can apply for a Protected species licence for science, education or conservation from the government website using the ‘A29’ form.

Note that if you are interested in botany, you can work towards attaining a Field Identification Skills Certificate (FISC) from the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI). You undertake a day-long practical assessment and your skills rated using a pyramid from a scale of 1 (beginner) to 5 (professional), with level 6 only awarded in exceptional cases. Please see more information on their website. Note that FISCs are not yet offered in Scotland, Wales or Ireland.


How do I achieve Protected Species Licences, and how long does it take?

This is entirely dependent on a range of factors, such as what surveys you are able to shadow on, how much spare time you have for volunteering, which courses you attend, and how quickly you become confident in understanding each species and applying your knowledge. The best place to start is to keep a log of all the work you undertake around your species of choice, as this is important when applying to Natural England and understanding if you are at the correct level of skill and confidence to use the licence. For great crested newts and dormice, the logbooks below can be a useful place to record this.


What are ROLO and a CSCS Card?

CSCS = Construction Skills Certification Scheme

“CSCS cards provide proof that individuals working on construction sites have the appropriate training and qualifications for the job they do on site. By ensuring the workforce are appropriately qualified the card plays its part in improving standards and safety on UK construction sites.

Holding a CSCS card is not a legislative requirement. It is entirely up to the principal contractor or client whether workers are required to hold a card before they are allowed on site. However, most principal contractors and major house builders require construction workers on their sites to hold a valid card.”– CSCS

To obtain this card you must undertake and complete a Register of Land Operatives (ROLO) course, and you then need to pass a separate CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) test which can be undertaken at test centres like those used for theory driving tests.

You will need both a ROLO course certificate and a certificate to say you passed the CITB test to apply for a CSCS card.