Meet the team

We are a group of dedicated experts working together towards a common goal to equally support development and the conservation of wildlife. If you would like to learn more about us or if you are interested in joining our team, we would love to hear from you.

Paul Whitby

Managing Director/Principal Ecologist

Paul is a Chartered Ecologist with fourteen years experience working as an ecologist and environmental consultant. His career began in Cheshire working on a number of large projects including gas pipelines, waste recovery centres, Liquid Natural Gas installations and other commercial developments. After a short spell working back in his home town of Petworth, Paul set up Azure Ecology in 2009, a small independent ecological consultancy working with a network of sub-contractors across south east England.

Paul founded The Ecology Co-operation in March 2014 to replace Azure Ecology and accomodate the expanding team of ecologists. Paul has working experience with a wide variety of British terrestrial wildlife and has managed projects of all sizes including writing Ecological Impact Assessments (EcIA), working as an expert witness at planning enquiries and completing 23 Farm Environment Plans as part of Higher level Stewardship applications across seven different counties. He has survey licenses for bats, dormice and great crested newts and has held a number of European Protected Species licenses.

Aside from ecology, Paul’s interests include Rugby, vegetable gardening, free diving and pretending to be good at DIY.


Dan Bennett

Principal Ecologist

Dan joined the Team in April 2017 and has over 20 years’ practical experience working in the ecology profession, starting in the public sector in 1996 as an aquatic biologist and later, as a conservation officer for the Environment Agency. After a year working on conservation projects abroad, Dan worked in the ecology team for Jacobs UK Ltd for ten years, focussing on Environmental Impact Assessments, mitigation design and execution, and delivering protected species licenses for a variety of large infrastructure projects (highways, pipelines, reservoirs and managed realignment schemes) across the UK. Dan holds survey licenses for bats, dormice, great crested newt and white-clawed crayfish. His strengths lie in the field, surveying for the above species, birds (including wetland, wintering and breeding birds), a variety of invertebrates, and providing succinct reports and practical solutions to mitigation issues.


Outside of work, Dan has enjoyed travelling abroad to find exotic wildlife and volunteering for a variety of wildlife organisations. More recently, staying closer to home, growing veggies and pond dipping in the garden with his young family.


Xenia Snowman

Principal Ecologist

Xenia joined the team in April 2019. She has thirteen years experience advising on protected species within professional ecological organisations, with a further two years volunteering for charities and and research institutions, including in Australia, Kenya, Uganda, Costa Rica, Honduras and Borneo, as well as within the UK. She started her ecology career at The Bat Conservation Trust where she worked for four years and went on to work as a freelance Ecologist and for a number of consultancies, from small to national multidisciplinary companies.

Xenia has a particular passion for bats, dormice, badgers, otters and other mammals and holds her Natural England Class 2 Bat Survey Licence, while training towards her Bat Class 3 and 4 Bat Licenses. She has undertaken a combination of mist-netting, harp trapping, radio-tracking and hibernation and swarming surveys of structures and underground cave and mine systems in Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, on the Isle of Wight and in Costa Rica and Honduras. Xenia specialises in advising on and designing bat surveys and mitigation schemes for licenses, implementation and undertaking post-project monitoring. Xenia is soon to gain her Class 1 Hazel Dormouse Survey Licence and is furthering her training in badger survey methodology, mitigation and licensing.

She is certified as an aerial tree climber (PTC CS38), has experience of IRATA climbs of structures, holds her Personal Track Safety Sentinel card for railway work in AC and DC areas, ROLO, CITB and is inducted for Network Rail and East West Rail work. Xenia is Emergency First Aid trained and one of our Mental Health First Aiders. Xenia is experienced in facilitating clients in making informed decisions, including in order to obtain planning consent, whilst managing any issues relating to biodiversity. She is competent in managing multiple projects of varying sizes including housing development schemes, retirement home complexes, school re-development schemes, monument restoration including of Grade I and Grade II Listed Buildings, churches and bridges, woodland management and tree works, including for tree felling licences. Xenia is also competent at managing teams of staff and sub‐contractors, designing surveys and mitigation schemes for multiple protected species and has regular involvement with statutory authorities, stakeholders, charities and research institutions in both a professional and volunteer capacity.

In her spare time, Xenia enjoys attempting to grow veg, eating aforementioned veg, camping, travelling and exploring in her campervan. 


Owen Crawshaw

Senior Ecologist

Owen joined the Ecology Co-op in 2019 having previously worked as an Ecologist in South Oxfordshire for five years. He graduated from the University of Bristol in 2014 with a BSc (Hons) degree in Zoology.

Owen is a Full member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management with a Level 2 bat survey licence, Level 1 great crested newt survey licence and barn owl survey licence. He specialises in bird surveying having undertaken wintering bird surveys, breeding bird surveys, wetland bird counts and species-specific surveys, including surveys for: barn owl, peregrine, black redstart and skylark. Other relevant ecological experience includes undertaking Preliminary Ecological Appraisals, preparation of European Protected Species Licences and completing tree climbing surveys for roosting bats.

Owen is an avid birdwatcher and photographer and to date has recorded over 750 species globally involving travel to: Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Japan, South Africa, Mozambique and Sri Lanka. His other interests include cricket and scuba diving.


Kate Priestman

External Consultant and Proof-Editor

Kate is a Chartered Environmentalist and full member of CIEEM. She has over eighteen years experience as a professional ecologist, working for multinational companies at a senior level, on large, complex, public-realm schemes; she has provided the lead ecology role across a broad range of sectors and a wide range of deliverables. She has also successfully set up and run her own ecology consultancy business. Kate now works as a freelance writer and proof-editor. She undertakes report reviews, and has inputted into the design of our report templates.


More information about Kate’s work and professional services can be found here –


Dr Ryan Walker

Principal Ecologist

Ryan gained his PhD in the study of reptiles in Madagascar and has over thirteen years experience working within the commercial ecological management and mitigation field and within the NGO biodiversity conservation sector. His experience extends from consultancy work in the UK to a range of projects internationally across several countries.


Ryan’s strength is in field-based biological surveying . He holds European Protected Species Licenses for bats, dormice and great crested newts and is a Chartered Environmentalist through the Society of the Environment. Ryan’s experience and range of survey skills makes him a highly valued lead surveyor at the Ecology Co-operation.

In his spare time Ryan enjoys hiking, scuba diving and entertaining the worlds most energetic terrier called ‘Otto’.


Jess Burkitt

Consultant Ecologist

‎Jess has worked as an ecologist at the Ecology Co-op for four years, having previously completed 14 months working as a Ranger at the National Trust. With a certification demonstrating her ability to use chainsaws, brush cutters and strimmers, Jess is also skilled at a variety of habitat work required on our projects and has accomplished a significant amount of ecological clerk of works project time on the Rampion cable route near Bolney, overseeing badger, reptile and great crested newt mitigation.


In addition to her ecological clerk of works role, Jess also undertakes reptile dormouse, great crested newt and badger surveys, whilst also assisting on bat activity and emergence surveys. She has experience working on a range of projects, including large scale housing development, organising surveyors, equipment and planning around the weather! Jess has a great crested newt Level 2 survey license and is close to obtaining her dormouse survey license.

Jess loves all wildlife…..except biting invertebrates….she definitely does not like biting invertebrates!


Sam Lunn

Senior Ecologist

Sam is an established member of the Ecology Co-operation Team, having started with us in April 2013. After completing his Masters at Newcastle University, Sam spent two years in South Africa as a Field guide and Ranger dealing with wildlife and habitat management, guided walks and running volunteer projects. Since joining the Ecology Co-operation Sam has become an Associate member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management and gained practical experience of great crested newt, badger, water vole, bat and Phase 1 habitat surveys. Sam has attained his level 1 great crested newt license and level 2 bat license, whilst he is also working towards also obtaining his dormouse license.

Sam’s role at the Ecology Co-op includes the management of a number of projects with a variety of Phase 1 and Phase 2 survey elements, including large residential development sites.

Away from work Sam plays rugby for Horsham RUFC, enjoys skiing, wakeboarding and the emotional rollercoaster that comes with being a Fulham FC supporter.


Briony Hill

Consultant Ecologist

Briony is an established member of the team at the Ecology co-op and joined after working on a number of projects with the company in 2015. Before joining the company Briony worked on a project with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife trust investigating the affect of stewardship schemes on bumblebee abundance and diversity, following the completion of a BSc (Hons) degree in Zoology at Southampton University.


Briony is an Associate member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management and has experience in carrying out reptile surveys and translocations, badger surveys, Preliminary Ecological Appraisals and botanical assessments. Having gained her great crested newt and bat licenses, she also acts as a survey lead for these species, whilst she is also working towards her dormouse license.

Briony has a remarkable ability for report writing and there seems to be a never-ending stream of reports from Briony that require reviewing!


Emma Baker

Consultant Ecologist

Emma joined The Ecology Co-op full-time in March 2018 after a placement with the company as part of her MSc in Corporate Environmental Management in 2017. Emma is now our main point of contact for our Devon office.


Since then, Emma has worked on a range of projects including residential and commercial developments covering retrospective applications, mitigation and enhancement schemes, EcIAs, biodiversity net gain calculations and Habitats Regulations Assessment screenings. She also has experience in Phase 1 Habitat Surveys, Preliminary Ecological Appraisals, translocations and ECoW, as well as Phase 2 surveys for bats, dormice and reptiles. She is an Associate member of CIEEM, and obtained her Great Crested Newt survey licence in 2019, having gained experience across three survey seasons.


Outside of work, Emma enjoys baking, exploring the River Exe, and caring for too many houseplants.



Kate Lewis

Consultant Ecologist

Kate joined the team in April 2018, having previously worked as an Assistant Botanist, a Field Studies Instructor and as a researcher on various animal behaviour projects.

Kate received a BSc (hons) degree in Zoology at Royal Holloway in 2007 and an MSc in Conservation at UCL in 2017. During the latter, Kate received a first for her dissertation on ‘The development of a terrestrial survey method for UK amphibians’.

Since joining the Ecology Co-op, Kate has become a Graduate member of CIEEM and now has a level 1 great crested newt survey licence. Kate is experienced in carrying out bat, badger, dormouse, GCN and reptile surveys and obtained a dormouse licence in 2020. She is actively training to become an advanced level botanist and is able to undertake National Vegetation Classification surveys for a range of habitat types.

As the most green-fingered person in the office, Kate has set about turning the office into a tropical paradise!


Charlie Gardiner

Habitat Ecologist

Charlie joined the team in April 2019.  He graduated with BSc (Hons) in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from Sparsholt College in Winchester and had previously worked alongside several ecological consultancies and countryside contractors across Surrey and Hampshire.  Charlie manages our sister company, The Habitat Co-op who specialise in habitat creation and species mitigation projects. However, Charlie is still also an integral member of The Ecology Co-op team and can conduct habitat surveys such as PEA and Phase 1s as well as a range of protected species surveys for water-clawed crayfish, reptiles, badgers, great crested newts, dormice and bats. Charlie holds NPTC tickets for chainsaws, brushcutters and pesticide spraying and a Natural England great crested newt survey licence. He is currently training towards survey licences for bats and smooth snakes.

In his own time, Charlie is a passionate Arsenal fan who watches as many games as he can. He is an active member within local wildlife groups in Surrey and Hampshire and can usually be found out walking on the local heathlands and chalk grasslands.


Rozel Hopkins

Assistant Ecologist

Rozel joined the Ecology Co-op in January 2021 after graduating from an MSci Zoology degree at Southampton University and completing a survey season with another ecological consultancy. During her degree she became interested in bats through her master’s dissertation, which investigated how bats behave towards a new type of proposed ‘bat-friendly’ streetlight. Through her work, this batty interest has expanded to reptiles, newts, birds and all other UK wildlife. Rozel has also volunteered on various conservation and animal welfare projects abroad in Tasmania, Greece, Cyprus and Croatia.

Rozel is experienced in assisting with bat emergence/re-entry survey, bat activity surveys and acoustic analysis, working as an ecological clerk of works and undertaking reptile and great crested newt surveys. In the future, she hopes to work towards gaining her bat and great crested newt licences.

Outside of work, Rozel’s interests include kickboxing, netball, travelling (when possible!) and baking, as well as spoiling her three-legged ‘tripod’ hamster Flo.


Sophie Bradfield

Assistant Ecologist

Sophie joined the Ecology Co-op in April 2018. Since graduating with a BSc in 2016, Sophie has built up a varied repertoire of experience, including three seasons in ecological consultancy and various short-term projects in conservation. The projects she has worked on includes aquatic invertebrates, wetland birds, bird ringing, and oak processionary moth surveys.

Sophie is experienced in carrying out surveys for residential and commercial developments including: Ecological Assessments, reptile surveys and translocations, ecological clerk of works, dormouse surveys, bat emergence/re-entry surveys, bat transects and assisting colleagues on bat scoping assessments and great crested newt surveys. Sophie particularly enjoys bat data analysis and data synthesis. Sophie hopes to gain her great crested newt experience in the near future.

Aside from ecology work, Sophie enjoys dancing modern jive and bachata, and has been a social dancer for the past 8 years coming top three in several competitions.


Jaycee Leddra

Office Manager

Jaycee joined as our office manager in February 2017. After spending many years in the education sector, Jaycee took on this role working around family commitments and has quickly adapted her previous management experience to help the company develop better administrative and accounting systems in a short space of time. As we continue to grow, Jaycee’s role is helping us to ensure that our Human Resources development continues to improve and is also managing elements of our professional accreditations, including Health and Safety and Quality Control through Achilles and SMAS.

Jaycee is the only person mad enough in the office to run a marathon!


Katy Pavey

Accounts Manager

Katy has worked at the Ecology Co-op for two years managing the company accounts and working on budgets. She keeps our clients on their toes with invoice payments and keeps our expenses in check. She operates alongside Jaycee in acting as a general office manager and keeping everything ticking over smoothly.

Away from work Katy has two adorable children and a pet husband called Stuart. She enjoys going camping, particularly around the New Forest and as you can see, she has some great surfing skills on dry land!