Hibernacula creation as a service refers to the creation of habitat for reptiles and amphibians. Development schemes can limit or destroy habitats in which these species can live, leading to a requirement for mitigation or creation of similar or new bespoke habitat types. When a habitat is likely to be affected or removed, we use natural materials such as logs and locally sourced aggregates to recreate suitable habitat for amphibian and reptile species, which would have otherwise been displaced as part of the scheme.
While terrestrial modifications may be undertaken for a multitude of reasons (including for private residence works), at FiveRivers we’re pleased to have worked on several notable transport, housing development and rive habitat improvement sites to create hibernacula for mitigation purposes, examples of which you can find in our case studies.
Hibernacula are also great features to install on a wide range of habitat improvement projects, especially when materials already present on site can be utilised when undertaking tree works for riparian river corridor habitats.
When planning a project, the following considerations must be made:
- Protected species cannot be moved from a development site until a suitable receptor site or compensatory habitat has been identified.
- there is a requirement in the planning process to avoid ecological harm resulting from the scheme. Where this is not possible, the effects must be mitigated through the creation of offsite bespoke mitigation sites. Compensation habitat is created as a last resort.
- existing complex habitats provide important refuge for amphibians and reptiles. In the result of these habitats being impacted by development, the creation of hibernacula is an effective compensatory measure within the site boundary.
- the creation of hibernacula often forms part of planning conditions, alongside the creation of ponds and other terrestrial habitat features.
Here at FiveRivers, environmental protection is in our nature. Our expertise over the past three decades has seen us contribute to a wide variety project across the length and breadth of the UK, with clients ranging from large civils companies to Rivers Trusts and private clients.
Our team includes specialists in terrestrial habitat creation, including hibernacula creation. We use site-won materials, wherever possible, of using nature-based solutions whilst also ensuring cost efficiencies for our clients without reducing resulting habitat quality. For example, utilising logs from tree clearance and site won turf and soils from excavations will reduce cost to remove ‘waste’ materials and later import similar materials for the creation of hibernacula. It is always beneficial to discuss the creation of ecological mitigation features early on through Early Contractor Involvement to identify where efficiencies as part of mitigation can be made.