Most of my work involves carrying out surveys, providing advice and applying for licences as an ecological consultant. However I am also available for training in various forms and run a regular course on protected species at Slapton Ley. I am currently engaged in two small research projects.

  • Regular courses
  • Bespoke courses
  • Mentoring
Research Projects
  • Dormice in a fragmented landscape
  • Insects in the diet of dormice


I specialise in mammals and most of my work involves otters, badgers and dormice, occasionally bats or water voles. However I have a considerable breadth of knowledge and experience with a wide range of mammal species and have under taken work or planned surveys on several others including water shrews, harvest mice, red squirrels, deer, hares and pine marten.


Surveys: Planning, execution, supervision, interpretation and presentation of results.

Licences: Dozens of licences for badgers over a period of more than 15 years, both for development and damage; many licences for dormice in connection with development; holder of licence to handle dormice anywhere in England; holder of licence to mark dormice with microchips for one project in Cornwall. Holder of licence to disturb and take bats (i.e. carry out surveys) in SW England. Licenses for otters are very rarely needed but I have obtained a licence to exclude otters from and to destroy a potential holt at one site.

Habitat modification: Exclusion of badgers from and supervision of the destruction of a considerable number of badger setts; I have built badger setts in the past, but now prefer to leave it to specialists. Supervision of work in dormouse habitats under licence. Planning, execution, or supervision of mitigation work for both species and for water voles.

Advisory work: I am regularly asked to comment on advice from other consultants particularly where they may have less experience or a client is concerned at the apparent cost or complexity of a project. Often this leads to reassurance that appropriate and cost effective recommendations have been made, occasionally to contrary advice. On one occasion approximately £10,000 of work recommended prior to the installation of a pipeline was shown not to be necessary. Elsewhere a seven figure sum was saved when my experience combined with lateral thinking led to an alternative suggestion for mitigation which satisfied the requirements of CCW for a licence application without significant additional landtake.

Legal advice: I am an ecologist not a lawyer and therefore only give advice on legal matters with considerable caution. Nevertheless, I have a good working knowledge of the way that Statutory Nature Conservation Organisations interpret environmental legislation relating to protected species of mammals. Where I have a clear opinion based on my ecological knowledge relating to legal issues I am willing to give a firm statement to that effect and to justify it. Considerable experience means that my ecological opinions tend to carry weight.

Examples of Projects

I have worked on many housing schemes, large and small, working for small local builders as well as large national companies (such as Persimmon and Wimpey). Most have involved dealing with badger setts within or close to the developed area, a few concerned dormice. Otters and water voles have occasionally been a cause for concern but do not usually present significant problems.

Otters and Roads: Since 2000 I have been involved in several projects intended to reduce the number of otters killed on the roads in the UK and this has become something of a speciality. Several have been funded by the Highways Agency via their Managing Agents including work in areas 1, 3 and 5. The first of these, in area 1, involved a survey of the whole system to determine whether there were any factors which could be used to predict otter casualties and to make recommendations for reducing these. Work in Area 3 and 5 was targeted as specific roads. I was also involved in a national study financed by the HA and run by Halcrow, both as a member of the advisory committee and as trainer of the surveyors carrying out the project.
I have undertaken several projects for the Environment Agency in southern Britain, advising on mitigation for otters at road crossings and creating and maintaining a database of otter road casualties.
At the IUCN Otter Specialists Group's workshop in Italy in 2008 I was asked to present a paper entitled Otters and Road Casualties which was subsequently published in Hystrix - the Italian Journal of Zoology.

LIFE in UK rivers: In 2003-2005 I undertook a series of tasks in connection with this EU funded program leading to three publications. The first of these was a commission to prepare document summarising otter habitat requirements and this was published as 'Ecology of the European Otter' (see publications).
The second was to recommend a protocol for monitoring otters in SACs since the existing 'standard' method was devised for the national scale. Published as 'Monitoring the Otter' this was followed by a further contract to test the recommended method on five river catchments in England where the otter is a primary feature of interest (English Nature Research Report No 664. Otter surveillance in SACs: testing the protocol).

In southern England the most frequent concerns with pipelines are dormice or badgers though otters are occasionally of interest. I have worked on many water, sewage and gas pipeline schemes from the initial planning of surveys through to licence application, overseeing work carried out under licence and mitigation. Major clients: South West Water; Wales and West Utilities.

Major road projects:
A303 Bodmin to Indian Queens upgrade. Undertook most of the mammal work: surveys for badgers and dormice; applications for licences to disturb these species and supervision of their execution; advised on mitigation for otters.
This is the first site where my novel suggestion for dormouse 'underpasses' was implemented, and although these are being monitored, no results are available yet.
Bexhill to Hastings Link Road. In 2008 Mott MacDonald sought my advice because the surveys and mitigation recommendations for dormice had been considered inadequate by English Nature. I was able to demonstrate to English Nature that the surveys were adequate and to recommend mitigation measures which were acceptable to them.
A5 New Buildings to Aughnacloy, Northern Ireland. I was asked by Mouchel Ltd to advise on and co-ordinate mammal surveys for this 90km scheme and to undertake some of the survey work. This involved devising methods for surveying species which have no established protocols for these circumstances (pine marten and red squirrel) as well as recommending practical methods of carrying out surveys for otter breeding sites in an area of a few hundred square kilometres.

New towns
: In Devon major developments are underway near Exeter and Plymouth to develop new towns. I carried out much of the preliminary mammal survey work at the Plymouth site undertaking work on otters, dormice and badgers and assisting with bat surveys. At Exeter involvement has been principally with infrastructure to date, mainly roads, and has included surveys for dormice, badgers and bats and submission of the first licence for dormice on the scheme.

Species Advice

Water Voles


Annual Courses

I contribute to a post-graduate course on Ecological Impact Assessment at Bath Spa University.

I run a course on Badgers, Otters and Dormice at Slapton Ley Field Centre for the Field Studies Council. This provides a sound introduction to the ecology of the species and covers many aspects of consultancy work.

Bespoke Courses

I regularly prepare and run bespoke courses for clients including large consultancy companies (e.g. WSAtkins, Mott Macdonald) and for local government. These are tailored to the needs of individual clients and might cover particular species or particular circumstances (roads, footpaths, pipelines).


For small companies or individuals who do not wish to book me for a full course I am happy to enter into a mentoring arrangement whereby I guide a member of staff through the process of planning and carrying out surveys and/or licensing procedures.


Dormice in a Fragmented Landscape

From 2007 to 2010 I studied dormice living on and beside the A30 in Cornwall in collaboration with Leonardo Gubert of EnterpriseMouchel. The work was funded by English Nature/Natural England and the Highways Agency.
We found that there is a thriving population of dormice living in a very fragmented landscape on either side of the road and on the central reservation. A few dormice were recorded crossing the road and others are known to have done so. Breeding was recorded on the central reservation in three of the four years. Of the 62 adult dormice marked so far, 28 were first caught on the central reservation and one other moved there between one spring and the next.

Insects in the Diet of Dormice

Together with colleagues in Swift Ecology and at the Waterford Institute of Technology, I have been awarded a grant by the Whitley Wildlife Trust to investigate insects in the diet of dormice using molecular methods. This pilot project is intended to determine whether the technique - used by Matt Zeale of Bristol University in a study of Barbastelle bats - will reveal the range of insects eaten by dormice and any seasonal differences.

Consultancy ~ Training ~ Research Projects ~ Species Advice

© Paul Chanin 2010