Guidance on Ecological Survey and Assessment in the UK During the Covid-19 Outbreak (Version 3) (Published 29 June 2020)

This guidance document (which replaces versions 1 and 2, published on 7 May 2020 and 9 June 2020 respectively) has been drafted by experienced ecologists as a tool to help CIEEM members continue to undertake ecological survey and assessment during the restrictions necessitated by the Covid-19 outbreak, where they can do so safely. This version now includes freshwater pearl mussel and terrestrial invertebrates, although we recognise that it still does not cover all taxa. Our aim is to concentrate on those for which alternative approaches are most urgently required. We may produce further guidance for additional taxa in due course. We also recognise that it has been produced swiftly, in response to an extreme situation and urgent need. We therefore continue to welcome feedback and suggested improvements.

This document provides guidance on temporary alternative approaches to ecological survey and assessment in scenarios where field surveys cannot be undertaken for a given site or area, or only limited survey effort is achievable, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. It has been produced under the highly constraining environment necessitated by movement restrictions and is not intended to replace existing guidance and best practice. This guidance is aimed at parties:

  • undertaking ecological surveys and assessments, particularly in relation to planning applications (ecological consultants in most cases);
  • tasked with reviewing the adequacy of the ecological information provided in relation to a planning application (such as Local Planning Authorities and Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies);
  • compiling and reviewing species licence applications; and
  • undertaking or relying on pre-construction surveys.

This guidance is a response to the current Covid-19 circumstances and is not a template for future ecological survey and assessment methodology.

This guidance document will be reviewed, and potentially rescinded, in September 2020.

This guidance applies to the UK only. We have also published a similar document for ecologists working on the island of Ireland.

See further information on our Covid-19 webpages.