Protected species surveys

About Us

Darwin Ecology Ltd. is an independent ecological consultancy working for a wide range of clients include; residential and commercial developers, planning consultants, local authorities, architects, landscape architects, educational facilities, environmental consultancies and private individuals.

We are a highly professional team providing high quality surveys, reports and mitigation. Accurate survey work is key to your project, we will ensure the appropriate level of survey effort and mitigation is applied to each situation so no time or money is wasted. 

Our Name

Our name
Established in 2009, the year of Charles Darwin’s 200th anniversary, the company name pays homage to the grandfather of ecology. Darwin Ecology’s ethos is to assist in halting biodiversity loss in Great Britain through promoting understanding and integration of wildlife within modern society and infrastructure.

Our Logo

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

Meet the team

Michael Cummings 
Principal Ecologist/Director BSc (Hons) MSc MCIEEM

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 12 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 8 years Mike has focused upon commercial consultancy work, gaining protected species licenses for surveying bats, dormice and great crested newts. He has held and implemented numerous bat (various species) and great crested newt mitigation European Protected Species Licences. 
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 range of different sized 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 budgetary, time and site constraints whilst providing appropriate mitigation for the species concerned.

Mike has a class 2 bat licence from Natural England and a Low Impact Bat Licence. He is able to conduct bat scoping surveys, internal and external building assessments, emergence and re-entry surveys, activity surveys and climbed tree inspections. Mike is trained in aerial rescue and has specific training in inspecting trees using an endoscope to confirm presence/likely absence of bats.
Laura Ashford 
Ecologist MSc

Laura is an ecologist and conservationist with extensive experience of natural resource management. Laura has worked in the environmental sector for over ten years both in the UK and internationally. Arriving to us from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea as a Biodiversity Officer, Laura has also worked ecologically in the private sector, charities such as the London Wildlife Trust and for the Government of Western Australia as a Natural Resource Management Officer. Employment has involved project management, ecological impact assessments, environmental education and ecological consultancy. 

Laura has worked for a range of clients in the sectors of agriculture, mining and  large-scale infrastructure. UK sites have involved port, residential, large housing and office scheme projects, church, barn and loft conversions. These previous experiences have proved invaluable in helping her when liaising with stakeholders, providing clear and concise advise and on site assistance to ensure suitable working practices are adopted.

She has undertaken protected species, habitat surveys and translocations for a variety of sites and species including bats, water voles, badgers, reptiles and dormice. To support planning applications she has undertaken and written reports covering extended Phase 1 habitat assessments, preliminary ecological appraisals, protected species and BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Homes assessments. 

She has experience of a wide variety of survey techniques, managed habitat creation projects, managed, guided and instructed contractors, led practical habitat conservation group work,  managed ecological licence applications, led ecological survey training workshops, supervised site clearance and implementation of mitigation schemes.

Laura is working towards her Bat licence and towards associate membership of CIEEM.
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Helen Cavilla 
Ecologist BSc (Hons.)

Helen has worked within commercial ecological consultancy for almost 2 years. Prior to working in consultancy, she has worked in a range of roles within conservation, animal and habitat management on a variety of sites both within the UK and overseas. Helen has gained diverse and relevant ecological experience through her roles as a ranger for the City of London and Surrey County Council on a National Nature Reserve and Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and in environmental education and eco-tourism for various organisations including the National Trust, Field Studies Council and Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest Trust. Such work has proved invaluable in helping her when liaising with landowners, clients and contractors, as well as gaining practical knowledge of ecology and habitat management. 

Helen has assisted with a range of development projects including residential and commercial sites, schools, and habitat management. She has also assisted with project management, management of subcontractors, supervised site clearance and implementation of mitigation.

She has undertaken protected species, Preliminary Ecological Appraisals, Phase 1 Habitat Surveys and translocations for a variety of sites and species including bats, birds, reptiles, amphibians and dormice. She also has experience of preparing technical reports to support planning applications and European Protected Species (EPS) bat mitigation licence applications. 

Helen is working towards her bat and dormouse licences. She has gained experience of a wide variety of survey techniques, much of which through volunteering on dormice, breeding birds, great crested newt eDNA, bats, small mammals and invertebrates surveys.
Elizabeth Sturgess BSc (Hons) AIEEM - Ecologist
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Holly Brown 
Ecologist MSc GradCIEEM PIEMA

Holly has worked within commercial ecological consultancy for almost three years. She graduated with a first class degree in Geography and achieved an MSc with Distinction in Environmental Consultancy. She has a range of transferable working skills from a number of years working for international global development charities between these study periods. 

Holly undertakes a range of ecological surveys and mitigation work for Darwin Ecology. She has worked on a range of surveys including: Preliminary Ecological Appraisals, Phase 1 Habitat Surveys, bat scoping and emergence and re-entry, GCN, reptile and dormouse surveys. She has also previously been involved with badger, otter and water vole surveys. 

Holly has a range of technical report writing experience and assists with licence applications for planning applications. Holly has worked on a range of projects from large-scale housing developments and farms to small scale individual commercial and residential developments. She has also carried out on-site supervision and destructive searches for a range of protected species and has been involved in the installation of mitigation and habitat creation. 

Holly also has previous experience working across an environmental consultancy assisting with Environmental Impact Assessments, Feasibility studies, Agricultural Assessments, Flood Risk Assessments and Design and Access Statements and is trained in the use of GIS software. 

Holly is working towards her GCN, Bat and Dormouse licences and towards associate membership of both CIEEM having achieved Practitioner membership of IEMA in 2016.
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Dr Ryan Walker 
BSc MSc CEnv MIEEM Senior Ecologist 

Ryan joined Darwin Ecology in 2009. He has over 12 years experience working within the commercial ecological management and mitigation field, and within the NGO biodiversity conservation sector.

Ryan's PhD was gained in the field of Herpetology (reptiles and amphibians) studying the conservation of the critically endangered spider tortoise (Pyxis arachnoidies), found only in the unique spiny forest habitat of South West Madagascar.

Ryan's strength is in field-based biological surveying. His ability to withstand long hours in the field under basic conditions has earned him the respect of the international conservation community and he regularly works in partnership with WWF, The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Wildlife Conservation Society and the Turtle Survival Alliance, to name but a few.

Ryan holds European Protected Species Licences for bats, dormice and great crested newts, and is a key member of the team and in our protected species surveys, licensing and mitigation projects.
Dr Ryan Walker BSc MSc CEnv MIEEM - Senior Ecologist
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Southern Office - Farnham, Surrey

Helen Cavilla
01252 413 221
07701 370 762

Laura Ashford
01252 413 221 
07525 134 803

South West Office - Shaftesbury

Michael Cummings
01252 413 221 
07748 843 842
Contact Us
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