Ecological surveys and environmental impact assessment

Good science is essential in any environmental assessment and even when opinions can be divided between different stakeholders, independent evaluation of data is essential.  Valid decisions can only be made when good science is applied.

It is often noted how methods and, therefore, apparent outcomes can be applied to suit those who commission laboratory or environmental work, whether industry, Government or NGO sponsored.  Denehurst will undertake independent reviews to help confirm validity of methods and outcomes and propose alternative methods for evaluation.

Examples have included review of marine effluent work that failed to show discharge, but samples were taken at a time when the activities of concern were not taking place, or when NGOs and industry challenged impact of aquatic toxicity from mining through ‘guideline’ studies, but selected species and test conditions to help their own arguments.  There have also been cases where agencies express concern over exposure from use, but the chemicals occur in nature at much higher concentrations.

Careful planning of methods to stand scrutiny is essential; from the example above, management had failed to tell the factory why effluent samples were needed, but after repeating the sampling and analysis (at significant cost), the chemicals of concern were still not detected and the process controls were considered acceptable.

Work is provided for free to help charities and environmental groups or where there is a potential for environmental improvement through biodiversity or reduced chemical impact. 

Mark has done extensive habitat surveys and ecological surveys for the British Trust for Ornithology and landowners and has been asked to help in training of fellow volunteers.