As a landscaping professional, throughout your everyday duties and projects, you actively change and manipulate outdoor environments on a regular basis. This for obvious reasons has a serious effect on the surrounding and local populations of wildlife, some of which may be endangered and/or protected.
Due to the potential dangers to wildlife throughout a landscaping project, it’s important that you are aware of protected and endangered species, their habitats and the methods of safeguarding you should employ. Awareness and planning for this throughout your career can help you stay on the right side of the law and help to ensure the continuation of Britain’s wildlife species.
An important first step is to view the gov.uk guidance on protected species and the guidance on construction near protected habitats. You are responsible for ensuring that your development doesn’t affect a protected area, such as national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs), etc. In addition, it must not affect protected species, such as bats, great crested newts, dormice, otters, etc. This includes disturbing, damaging or obstructing the species and the species’ places of resting, breeding and sheltering – even if accidental.
Slow Worm – Protected Species in the UK
It’s not just animals that you need to be aware of; there are many species of plant life in the UK that are protected under similar laws. Creeping marshwart, early gentian, fen orchid and lady’s slipper are just a few of the plants protected under the European protected species law. This law outlines that it’s illegal to pick, cut, uproot, destroy, possess, etc. these plants – even if accidental.
Gov.uk guidance requires that you have a survey conducted (often by a licensed ecologist) on your landscaping or construction site: “if distribution, habitat assessments and historical records suggest they may be present”.
Whilst the protection of endangered species is important, they aren’t the only species that you should be considering during a landscaping project. There are many important species that aren’t on the protected species list that could be in danger when uprooting trees or removing hedgerows for example. Simply because the affected area isn’t within a protected habitat, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a conservative attitude towards landscaping.
Take the time to learn about the habitat and environments of the UK’s endangered species. Take the time to learn about and identify the UK’s protected plant life. Do you know what a creeping marshwart looks like? Can you identify the likely nest of a slowworm? These are things that, as a landscaper, you should know.
It only takes one instance for you to miss and if you’re found guilty of the offence, you could be liable for an unlimited fine and up to 6 months in prison. Take the time to learn the signs and how to avoid the dangers.
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