Wildlife policy (Autumn 2015)
Benbow Brothers recognises the importance of nature conservation and ecology and their position within Arboriculture. The knowledge and identification of varying types of ecosystem and habitat within the industry is an ongoing process and Risk Assessment/ Method Statements raise appropriate issues when they are encountered. Periodic changes to regulations are monitored and noted.
European Protected Species
The three species most likely to be encountered in tree work are Bats, Great Crested Newts and Dormice. European Protected Species are covered by the Following legislation.
- The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
- The Conservation (natural habitats regulations 1994) (amended 2009)
- Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CROW) 2000
Benbow Brothers use the following guidelines when an operation may encounter protected species
European Protected Species and Woodland Opertaions
Decision chart to aid planning of woodland operations and protecting EPS
Licences will be obtained from Forestry Commission/Natural England if appropriate
Bats and the Law (Woodland Management for Bats 2005).
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 makes it an
offence to disturb, damage, or destroy bats or their roosts.
The Act applies in both England and Wales and requires consultation with the appropriate SNCO before carrying out activities which might harm or disturb bats or their roosts. The Act is amended by the CROW Act 2000. This adds recklessness to the offence of damaging or destroying a place a bat uses for shelter, or disturbing a bat whilst using a roost.
The Conservation (Natural Habitat Regulations 1994) implements the European Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora 1992 amended August 2007.
Under the regulations, damaging or destroying a breeding site or resting place is an absolute offence, regardless of whether the act of so doing may be regarded as reckless, deliberate or incidental.
The Natural Habitat Regs. 2009 amendments cover the protection of linear habitat (tree lines, Hedgerows) used by migratory species and the possible effects of the European Protected Species (EPS) population in that area.
Benbow Brothers employees have attended training course and are certificated in Bat Awareness.
There is the strong possibility of the presence of Bats in mature trees. Before surgery or felling work takes place an inspection will be made, especially checking for loose bark or cracks where bats may be roosting. Mature ivy will also be investigated if appropriate and signs of Bat activity around cavities (staining, urine) will be noted. If there is clear evidence then work will be delayed. Particular care must be taken during hibernation from December to March.
Birds and the Law
Birds are protected by a number of pieces of legislation:
- Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) Section 1 Birds
- The Conservation (Natural Habitats) Regulations 1994
These two implement the Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora, otherwise known as the Habitats Directive.
- Protection of Birds Act 1954
- Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 amends the W.C.A. regarding powers and penalties.
The main changes are that the work ‘reckless’ has been added to the W.C.A. legislation, and offences are now ‘arrestable offences’, with penalties of up to Ѓ5,000 and/or 6 months jail. If more than one bird then the fine is £5,000 per bird/nest/egg/skin.
Wild Bird: Any bird of a kind which is resident in, or as a visitor to Great Britain, in a wild state (Excluding Game birds, which are covered by the Game Acts, which fully protect them during the close season).
All birds, their nests and eggs are protected by law.
It is therefore an offence to:
- Intentionally kill, injure or take any wild bird.
- Intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird whilst in use or being built.
- Intentionally take or destroy the egg of any wild bird.
- Have in ones possession or control any wild bird, dead or alive, or any part of a wild bird, which has been taken in contravention of the W.C.A. or the Protection of Birds Act 1954.
- Have in ones possession or control any egg or part of any egg, which has been taken in contravention of the Act.
- Intentionally (or Recklessly in England/Wales under CroW2000) disturb any wild bird listed on Schedule 1 while it is nest building, or at (or near) a nest containing eggs or young, or disturb the dependent young of such a bird.
It is an intentional act if a contractor continues to reduce or remove a hedgerow, tree or shrub after he/she discovers, or is told that birds are nesting there. Discovery of a nest during the process of work will also prohibit further cutting work within an area or buffer zone around the nest.
EXEMPTIONS Section 4-2Љ WCA states it does NOT constitute an offence if the act can be shown to be the incidental result of an otherwise lawful operation, and could not reasonably have been avoided; OR as a matter of Public Health and Safety or for Conservation reasons and the birds are included in a recognised list of 13 pest species, catered for by a general nation-wide licence.
Forest Operations and Badgers
Badgers are protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.
It is an offence to wilfully kill, injure or take a badger; to interfere with a sett showing signs of current use, but damaging or obstructing it or by disturbing a badger when it is occupying a badger sett, with intent or recklessly.
The Nature Conservation Agencies may issue licences for forestry operations that may interfere with a badger sett.
- Time operations near setts to avoid the breeding season Dec – June
- Set up protection zones (min 20m around sett entrances), market by brightly coloured nylon rope.
- When silviculturally thinning, trees in the immediate vicinity of holes should not be felled where there is a risk of damage or blocking the mouth of the hole.
- Timber extraction routes should not enter the protection zone
- Fell trees away from any holes, main badger runs or latrines.
- Where extraction is not possible without disturbance or damage, leave timber unharvested; cross-cut and stack to avoid hole entrances, main runs and latrines.
- Remove any lop and top from around the sett, main runs and latrines immediately at the time of cutting.
- Containers of fuel, oil, chemicals or other harmful materials must not be used or stored in the marked area around the sett, main runs or latrines. The only exception is urea treatment conifer stumps to protect from Heterobasidion annosum.
- On a clearfell site, unless the sett can be included within a larger area to be retained as old woodland, it will be better to fell the trees within the protection zone. Care must be taken to avoid damage to the entrances or tunnel structure. Also this will not ‘advertise’ the sett location.
- No ground preparation, stump removal, mechanical piling or burning of lop and top to take place within the protection zone. Where it is necessary for fencing to protect the tree crop, badger gates should be included to prevent restriction of movement.
If in any doubt, consult the Licensing Authority (MAFF in England; WOAD in Wales; SOAFD in Scotland).
If you have any questions about wildlife in your garden or woodland and how the animals and plants interact as part of an ecology, or need help identifying or dealing with an infestation please contact us via email, telephone, fax or post.