RSK Biocensus is one of the largest ecology and environmental management consultancies in the UK. The team aims not just to facilitate sustainable development with minimal environmental impact but to use their knowledge, passion and influence to effect tangible beneficial change for nature.
One major project the team has been involved in includes most phases of HS2, which has required large-scale multidisciplinary surveys using specialist and advanced techniques, often in sensitive ecological areas. Other examples include the re-roofing of over 1000 Ministry of Defence properties, undertaking the necessary surveys and building in enhancements for bats, and advising on the undergrounding of pylons through a sensitive landscape for National Grid. As part of this project a 30-year Biodiversity Net Gain Delivery Plan will help deliver in excess of 10% habitat enhancement and community benefit.
The company has set up a new business stream, RSK Wilding, to help deliver nature’s recovery. As part of this approach, the company has assessed 29 sites in the Cheshire East Council area for their potential to deliver nature-based solutions, habitat creation, peat restoration and sites for renewable energy generation. This work supports the Council’s aim to be carbon-neutral by 2025.
The team is also developing an approach, based on Natural England’s work on the carbon sequestration of different habitats, to optimise the carbon-offsetting potential of its biodiversity offsetting designs and including nature-based solutions to climate change wherever possible.
RSK Biocensus is a strong advocate of using scientific evidence to inform ecological and environmental management practice. It proactively contributes data and lessons learnt to inform the production of best practice guidance, for example in revisions of the Bat Survey Guidelines and Bat Mitigation Guidelines. The company invests some of its profits in studies to plug knowledge gaps, has appointed a director charged with developing a programme of in-house research and employed a senior researcher, and has initiated a strategic relationship with the University of Exeter Environment and Sustainability Institute to collaborate on research projects. In addition, they launched a web-based initiative to share existing guidance on bird survey techniques (https://birdsurveyguidelines. org/) which will help identify critical research topics required to further develop guidance. This is a novel interactive approach to providing best practice guidance which the team hope to use as a blueprint for similar initiatives on other taxa.
In 2021 the wider RSK family’s core sustainability commitments include:
- signing the Pledge to Net Zero and submitting Scope 1, 2 and 3 targets for all UK operations;
- committing to set science-based carbon targets for all global operations;
- refocusing internal and external communications around climate change, using our influence at key events such as COP26 to prompt stakeholders to action.
In support of the above, RSK Biocensus’s Sustainability Plan commits them to ongoing, measurable improvement across five primary pillars of their work, each championed by a member of staff. They are also aiming to become B Corporationaccredited to demonstrate high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. This will commit the company to measuring, reducing and offsetting its carbon footprint, for example through: switching to 100% renewable energy tariffs; using local subcontractors (reducing travel); and changing the pension scheme to 100% ESG.
The team are at the core of the company’s success. A ‘Staff Development’ Business Function is dedicated to supporting staff through their careers, and a Professional Development Coordinator has been employed specifically to maximise the training opportunities for all employees in line with their career aspirations. Staff are encouraged to ‘craft’ a career based upon: what they enjoy, what they are good at, and what we require as a business.
The team enjoys a series of fortnightly Winter Webinars (aimed at skills/knowledge applicable to all), First Thursday talks on a wide variety of topics, and targeted training for smaller groups developing specific skills (e.g. on survey and mitigation techniques for key species, GIS skills, plant identification, etc.). All staff are supported through their CIEEM membership applications (90% of eligible staff are members/applicants) and their chartership applications (over half of senior staff are chartered), with promotions directly aligned with CIEEM grades and competencies.
RSK Biocensus supports the profession by volunteering staff time to serve on CIEEM committees, policy panels and working groups producing guidance as well as other organisation’s stakeholder groups, such as Natural England’s Bat Expert Panel. Individual team members also attend careers events, showcasing ecological consultancy to the next generation.
We are posting further information on each of the 2022 CIEEM Awards Winners over on our blog.