Developers have an important obligation to preserve and enhance the natural environment. SYSTRA provides scientific, policy and technical advice, and services to help clients conserve and enhance biodiversity in any new infrastructure or construction project.

Whilst it is accepted we need transport infrastructure to support growth and prosperity for people and local communities, we also have a responsibility to protect our natural environment and its ecosystems that contribute to human health and well-being.

Nature Positive – Ecology, Landscape & Ecosystem Services

Ecology and Landscape is not only about creating green spaces and protecting local species and biodiversity. It is also about increasing resilience to climate change impacts via nature-based solutions and reinforcing ecological continuities.

We now have the knowledge and the tools to make a change. Within the construction industry we have the ability to take a lead in addressing the challenge via our projects. Biodiversity Net Gain is an approach to development that leaves biodiversity in a better state than before. We must collaborate to provide Biodiversity Net Gain and create habitats resilient to change that will give the opportunity for species to survive and thrive.

Within SYSTRA, Landscape and Ecology are joining forces under the SYSTRA Nature Positive Discipline to provide integrated design solutions that will ensure such an optimised outcome. We are aiming to deliver the best outcome for biodiversity by bespoke habitat and landscape designs.

SYSTRA has a team of highly qualified and experienced ecologists and landscape architects who work proactively with clients to avoid and mitigate potential impacts and project risks, identify enhancement opportunities, and deliver bespoke and innovative design solutions for each project.

Discover how SYSTRA has applied innovation, technology and ingenuity to re-think infrastructure engineering solutions to optimise time, budget, safety and sustainability.

Our Ecology team provides the technical expertise required to help clients balance complex infrastructure design requirements with the need to conserve and protect the natural environment.

The SYSTRA Ecology team has expertise in a wide range of disciplines to ensure new infrastructure and construction projects are designed in harmony with nature. Our team can support projects from the early stages, helping clients to develop roadmaps for successful ecological impact assessment, mitigation strategy development and implementation. Our advice and technical expertise play a key role in shaping best practice for nature-based solutions in infrastructure development and the built environment.

Phase 1 Habitat surveys and preliminary ecological appraisal

It’s important to identify any potential ecological constraints at the early stages of the design process. This reduces project risks, enables mitigations to be built in to the designs, and results in greater cost and programme certainty. SYSTRA conducts habitat surveys and preliminary ecological appraisals as the first stage of the ecological assessment process. This work involves a combination of desk studies and field surveys to identify designated sites, habitats and protected, priority and invasive species that could present constraints to the development.

Protected species surveys and licensing

Ecological Impact Assessments often require specialised surveys for protected species, such as bats, great crested newt and otter. Our team holds the relevant licences to survey for a range of protected species using the latest techniques, including environmental DNA sampling, infra-red/thermal imaging surveys and aerial tree inspections. We also have experience of applying for and obtaining protected species mitigation licences and designing and implementing appropriate mitigation schemes when impacts cannot be avoided.

Invasive non-native species surveys

The presence of invasive plant species, such as Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam, can have significant cost and programme implications for developments – so it’s important to identify them at an early stage. Our ecologists are trained to identify a wide range of invasive species during preliminary site surveys, and can advise on requirements for avoidance, eradication and management.

Biodiversity offsetting / net gain assessments

To comply with planning policy and other consenting regimes, new developments are increasingly required to offset impacts on biodiversity. The Environment Bill mandates a 10% net gain in biodiversity for most development projects. Our Ecology team is experienced in using the appropriate biodiversity metrics to quantify impacts. We can advise on potential enhancements within development footprints to achieve biodiversity gains, as well as calculating offsetting requirements.

Ecological Impact Assessments (EcIA)

The Ecology team at SYSTRA undertakes Ecological Impact Assessments at all levels. These can range from stand-alone EcIAs to support planning applications, through to providing the ecology chapters of Environmental Statements for major infrastructure projects.


  • Biodiversity Net Gain
  • Nature Positive solutions
  • Bespoke habitat and landscape designs
  • Industry standard best practice inline with CIEEM guidance
  • Licencing
  • Ecological Impact assessments
  • Protected species surveys
  • Nature based solutions
  • Landscape and Ecological Management plans
  • Master-planning and urban design with an emphasis on ‘place making’
  • Landscape (or townscape) and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) for all types of development
  • Landscape and urban design studies and design guidance documents
  • Detailed landscape design and environmental mitigation including SUDS treatment for all development types
  • Open space design including hard and soft landscape areas, parks, squares, play areas, gardens and green roofs

Habitats Regulations Assessment

Competent authorities have a legal obligation to undertake Habitats Regulations Assessment when plans or projects have the potential to adversely impact on European designated sites. This can form part of the consenting process. The data collated to inform the assessment process is usually prepared by a consultant. Our team can advise on mitigation options to avoid or reduce impacts. We work with colleagues in other environmental disciplines to prepare the necessary supporting information.

Ecological Clerk of Works and site supervision

During site preparation and construction work, we can provide Ecological Clerk of Works and site supervision services, where necessary, to manage ecological risks on site.

Arboricultural surveys

Our team includes qualified arborists who can undertake tree surveys to BS5837 and produce tree constraints plans, tree protection plans and arboricultural impact assessments.

Habitat creation, enhancement and management

One of the most effective ways to minimise the long-term effects of a development on wildlife is to create or enhance habitats. This is key to mitigating impacts on protected species, and to meeting biodiversity offsetting or net gain obligations. Our team can advise on the most appropriate and cost-effective habitat creation and enhancement solutions for each project. We also produce management plans, setting out the long-term maintenance and monitoring regimes required to support these habitats.

“Biodiversity is the most vital part of our planet, an integral part of our culture and identity, and an essential element of the solution to climate change. At SYSTRA, our Ecology team works closely with universities, professional institutions and conservation bodies to provide clients with cost-effective, practical and innovative biodiversity solutions.”

Dr Ana Togridou, Discipline Lead Nature Positive, SYSTRA

How can our experts help?

you may also like

Expert Insights

Expert's Insights

Read more

About Us

Read more

Sustainability at SYSTRA

Read more

Find out what its like to work at SYSTRA, rewards, benefits and about different career pathways including apprenticeships and graduate opportunities.