Tree cutting

About us

The Darwin Ecology Team

Darwin Ecology team

We're an independent ecology consultancy.

We help our clients – which include planning consultants, local authorities, architects, homeowners and individuals – get planning permission for their projects and enhance biodiversity in the process.

We've grown gradually and sustainably since 2009, mainly because we're great at helping people with unique ecological problems – not to mention our glowing recommendations, close client relationships and our hands-on work ethic.

Our ecologists are friendly, experienced and CIEEM-registered. We deliver accurate surveys with a human touch, as well as mitigation services, ecology reports and protected species licences to help keep your planning applications on track.

We also apply the right levels of effort and mitigation to each situation. Every project is different, and we know how to spend your time and money wisely – whatever the circumstances.

If you need an ecologist for a current or upcoming project, contact the team today.

Meet the team

Michael Cummings BSc (Hons) MSc MCIEEM

Principal Ecologist/Director

T: 07748843842

Darwin Ecology Ltd. was founded in 2009 by experienced Ecologist and Conservationist Mike Cummings. Mike has worked in the Ecology sector in the UK and internationally for nearly 20 years in a diverse range of roles including SSSI Management with the National Trust and as an Officer for Countryside Management with Surrey County Council. For the last 12 years, Mike has focused upon commercial consultancy work and building the Darwin Ecology business.

Mike’s strength is in bridging the gap between ecological theory and practical implementation on site to provide effective ecological solutions for all types of development. His experience of project managing a broad spectrum of projects from individual dwellings to larger scale residential and commercial development allows him to provide the most suitable advice to clients based on the clients budget, time and site constraints whilst providing appropriate mitigation for the species concerned.

Mike holds a Class 2 Bat Licence, is a registered consultant for the Bat Mitigation Class Licence and holds survey licences for Great Crested Newts and Dormice. He has held and implemented numerous European Protected Species Mitigation Licences for these species. He is also trained in aerial rescue and is a skilled tree climber and has specific training in inspecting trees for bat presence/absence.

Mike also leads the design and implementation of specialist ecological landscaping schemes. He is skilled in enhancing or modifying a site to achieve the optimum conditions and requirements for all species and habitats concerned. Mike is adept at both project management and on-site delivery of practical species mitigation, habitat creation and habitat management.

Mike Cummings CIEEM logo

Olatz BSc (Hons) MSc ACIEEM

Principal Ecologist – South West Area Manager

Olatz is based in our Bristol office and has over ten years of professional experience in the environmental consultancy sector as well as in nature conservation organisations. Olatz possesses English and Welsh survey licences for bats and great crested newts and is an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management. 

Olatz specialises in bat surveys and preliminary ecological appraisals, but has a broad range of ecological experience, including protected species surveys such as reptile, great crested newt, water vole, badger, reptile/water vole/newt translocation, mitigation design, EPS licensing, hedgerow surveys and ECoW. She is experienced at mapping using QGIS and has extensive project management experience ranging in size and type, both in the UK and abroad.

Outside of work, she enjoys trail walking and live music gigs, although you’re more likely to find her at children’s swimming lessons or playgrounds.

CIEEM logo

Amanda BSc (Hons), MSc, ACIEEM

Senior Ecologist – South East Area Manager

Amanda graduated from the University of Reading in 2015 with an MSc in Species Identification and Surveying Skills and has been progressing in the ecology sector ever since. During her time in the industry, Amanda has focused on developing key skills in all areas of Ecology and identifying personal strengths in project organisation and team management. She has had exposure to a spectrum of projects, ranging from small-scale private clients to the delivery of data for large infrastructure developments.

In recent years Amanda has gained Class Licences in Great Crested Newt (Level 1), Barn Owl (Level 1) and Bats (Level 2), attained a certification as a Mental Health First Aider (MHFA) and has even dabbled in tree climbing and aerial rescue. In her spare time, Amanda enjoys assisting local carers in Berkshire by ‘batsitting’ educational bats, and she can frequently be found wandering the beaches of her native environment of Cornwall.

Amanda Honour CIEEM logo

Jessie BSc (Hons)

Consultant Ecologist – South West Office

Jessie joined Darwin Ecology in 2020, coming to the field of ecological consultancy from a background in outdoor and environmental education. She holds an honours degree in Zoology and a PGCE and has spent many years volunteering in the wildlife conservation sector, from conservation in Greece to being an active member of her local mammal group.

As a proud generalist, Jessie has a wide range of interests within ecology and conservation. Applying her experience of wildlife monitoring projects, she has rapidly become skilled in undertaking protected species surveys for bats, reptiles, great crested newts, badgers and dormice. She is looking forward to contributing her experience of habitat management from her work on nature reserves to projects with Darwin Ecology, and in turn, further developing her skills in habitat creation and restoration.

With years of experience as a strategy coordinator within the education sector, Jessie’s skills in report writing, assessment and evaluation lend themselves to the broad scope of project work undertaken in her role at Darwin Ecology. She has gained experience in high-level inspections, preliminary environmental assessments and bat sound analysis and is a Qualifying member of CIEEM. She is currently working towards Level 1 Class licences for bats, great crested newts and dormice.

Outside of work, Jessie continues to volunteer with local wildlife recording groups and is an enthusiastic long distance trail walker and climber. She has several foundling animals who have adopted her including a partridge named Bertie.

Ecologist checking a bottle trap for a great crested newt survey

Libby BSc (Hons)

Licensed Ecologist – South East Office

Libby joined Darwin Ecology in May 2021 after graduating with a 2:1 degree with honours in Biological Sciences (Zoology). She started as a Seasonal Ecologist and has worked her way to Ecologist level, and in September 2023 was granted her Class 1 Bat Licence.

Libby manages a variety of projects in the southeast, from homeowner extensions to large estate sites, and takes a pragmatic approach in her management which meets the client‘s needs without jeopardising the ecology of the site. Libby is becoming a proficient bat ecologist and assists in all stages of bat-licensed projects including supervision and recreation of bat roosting features on buildings. In addition, Libby handles projects with other protected species present including reptiles, great crested newt and badger.

Outside of work, Libby volunteers with her local nature reserve where she puts her practical skills to use by completing woodland and heathland management tasks.

Libby Pinches

Nathan MSc (Hons)

Ecologist – South West Office

Nathan started as a seasonal Assistant Ecologist at Darwin Ecology in 2022 but became a full-time member of the team at the end of the season. He holds a 2:1 Master’s degree with honours in Conservation in Practice, graduating from the University of the West of England. Through this course, he learnt many different skills, including a range of practical survey techniques, and specialist software skills valuable to ecological work.

Prior to working for Darwin Ecology, Nathan worked and trained in horticulture, working on a wide variety of landscaping projects, gaining valuable skills to help on various Darwin Wildscape projects.  

Nathan has taken part in many different conservation and ecology projects across the globe, including studying and monitoring turtle populations in Costa Rica; a breeding programme to bolster the population of the critically endangered Spiny-tailed iguanas in Honduras; studying the habitat preferences for amphibians in Madagascar; and a research project on bees and their relationships to wildflowers in Bristol UK. Taking part in these projects has given Nathan a passion for conservation and ecology, and he wants to transfer these skills to help him progress into becoming a proficient ecologist and helping to conserve and protect British wildlife.

During the season Nathan is fully submerged in Phase 2 surveys for reptiles, badgers and dormice as well as bats and great crested newts for which he is working towards his Class 1 Licenses. 


Natalie BSc (Hons)

Ecologist and Logistics Coordinator – South East Office

Natalie joined Darwin Ecology in January 2024, coming from a background in ecological consulting, wildlife communications, project management and administration. Natalie holds a first-class degree in Zoology, taking part in various conservation activities at university, from habitat management at local Wildlife Trust nature reserves to tracking populations of buffy fish owls in the Bornean rainforest. 

Natalie has been involved in a range of projects at ecological consultancies, including homeowner renovations, commercial developments and a rail electrification project in South Wales. Through this work she has gained skills in undertaking a range of habitat and protected species surveys (including bats, dormice, great crested newts, reptiles and badgers), ecological report writing and preparing species mitigation plans. Natalie later moved into an ecology project management and office coordination role at a large multi-disciplinary organisation. She put her organisational skills to good use by getting involved in budget management and planning within the ecology team. Natalie looks forward to combining her practical ecology skills with her project coordination experience, to build her career as an Ecologist and Logistics Coordinator at Darwin Ecology.

Outside of work, Natalie is an avid crocheter and loves to travel whenever she can. She can often be found exploring the Gower Peninsula in her hometown of Swansea.


Jon BSc (Hons)

Ecologist – South West Office

Jon takes great interest in connections between ourselves and the natural world, always looking for ways to adapt and improve our surroundings for ourselves and our wildlife. He brings this mindset to the fore in dealing with development projects and their planning requirements for Biodiversity Net Gain, Ecological Management Plans, project mitigation, enhancements and improvements.

He’s fairly new to Ecology, having spent 16 years raising his family while working part-time for the NHS.

Jon loves anything outdoors and counts surfing, mountain biking, free-diving, ski-ing, cricket and golf amongst his favourite sports.


Ellie BSc (Hons) MSc

Ecologist – South East Office

Ellie started at Darwin Ecology as an assistant ecologist in June 2023 after graduating with an MSc in Global Wildlife Health and Conservation in September 2022 from the University of Bristol. Between graduating and starting at Darwin, Ellie hopped around a few roles including GIS mapping for the rural payments agency and research into the potential ecological impacts of a wave energy generator design.

Since starting at Darwin, Ellie has already gained experience in a variety of survey types and projects and has focussed on developing a collection of ecological skills ranging from plant identification to understanding the recently introduced biodiversity net gain metric. Alongside work, Ellie goes out with her local bat and dormouse groups, attending box checks for both species and trapping surveys for bats. She is currently working towards her class one licences for both great crested newts and bats.

Outside of work, Ellie enjoys playing for her hockey team, going to climbing gyms (or going outdoor climbing when the weather is good) and exploring the local countryside.


Maya BSc (Hons), MSc

Assistant Ecologist – South East Office

Maya started as an assistant ecologist at Darwin Ecology in 2024 after completing an MSc in Global Biodiversity Conservation at the University of Sussex. She also has a BSc in Applied Animal Science. Throughout this course, she learnt many practical surveying techniques which she put into practice during a field trip to Zambia and a conservation trip to Costa Rica.

Projects she has worked on include assessing how climate change affects the clustering behaviour of greater horseshoe bat populations in South West England, a habitat preference study for grey wolves and assessing human-wildlife conflict in a troop of Malbrouck Monkeys. She has also had experience with British wildlife through volunteering in a local wildlife hospital and with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. She has participated in bat surveying previously but is excited to take on her own projects this season. She has a wide range of interests within conservation and is looking forward to developing her skills working with different taxa. During her spare time, Maya likes to spend time with her cockapoo and go on walks, as well as travelling when she can.


Alisha MSc

Seasonal Assistant – South East Office

Alisha started as a seasonal ecologist at Darwin Ecology in 2024 after graduating with an MEnvSci in Environmental Science from the University of Southampton. Throughout her degree she specialised in biodiversity and conservation, getting the opportunity to learn a variety of practical survey techniques and specialist software skills. She also had the opportunity to participate in a conservation field trip to Belize where she spent 2 weeks in the heart of the Chiquibul Forest Reserve.

Alisha has worked on several projects in the past, including assessing bumble bee cognitive learning in urban and rural locations, investigating the effects of cross-colony ant and leaf translocation on the behaviour of leaf cutter ants, and assessing the extent of Africanised honey bees in Belize through wing morphometrics. She has previously volunteered with the Surrey Wildlife Trust to gain experience in bat identification and is now looking forward to learning new skills involving different taxa to help conserve a wide range of British wildlife.

Outside of work, Alisha enjoys horse riding and you can often find her out on her paddle board litter-picking her local rivers.

Alisha Stafford Jones


Canine Ecologist

Aoife has been a core member of the Darwin Ecology team since 2013. She loves heading out on site to undertake Preliminary Ecological Appraisals, badger surveys and bat surveys with Mike. She is especially proficient at finding hedgehogs during nocturnal surveys.

When in the office, she keeps alert for visitors and always lets the team know when another dog is passing by.

She can find a ball in almost any situation and helps everyone to relax by demanding some play time!


Our Name

Established in 2009 – the year of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday – our name pays homage to the grandfather of ecology.

Darwin Ecology’s purpose is to help stop biodiversity loss in Great Britain. We're pursuing this by promoting understanding, and through the integration of wildlife with modern society and infrastructure.

Our logo is the maidenhair fern, Adiantum capillus veneris – a British native species occurring in Southern England. Often found growing on old stone walls and buildings, this plant symbolises nature's integration within the built environment.