APEM’s Courtney Hooper holding an adult hazel dormouse

APEM’s Courtney Hooper holding an adult hazel dormouse

In 2020 APEM opened an office in Southampton to help deliver a wider variety of services to clients in the south of England. The latest edition to that team is senior ecologist, Courtney Hooper who is looking forward to helping clients along the south coast with their terrestrial ecology needs.

Courtney’s journey to becoming an ecologist started at university when she went on an interdisciplinary field trip with human geographers, biologists and zoologists to Sikkim, India. Being around others who love the environment and the species found within it is what made Courtney specialise in the area of ecology. This led to her completing a master’s in biodiversity and conservation where she realised she could make a real difference within the construction industry and the rest is history as they say!

The construction industry can often see ecologists as people who can delay their projects, a myth that Courtney is keen to set straight. Having a trusted ecologist onboard as early as possible on a project can actually speed up the development process and even save money. By being involved in the early planning stages of a project, an ecologist can put a detailed plan together which allows developers to understand the baseline ecological value of the site and plan for exactly what will legally be required. Ecologists may conduct specific protected species surveys, apply for mitigation licences or recommend ecological enhancements to achieve biodiversity net gain (BNG) for your developments.

APEM’s Courtney Hooper hanging out on a bat survey

APEM’s Courtney Hooper hanging out on a bat survey

“Getting on board early and making sure that development is carried out under the correct environmental legislation and that environmental provisions and enhancements for wildlife are in place, is where an experienced ecologist can deliver value to a client and make their job easier,” says Courtney.

Having an ecologist in place from the beginning, including at site inductions would be the best thing. We aren’t there to write the laws, just make sure that they are implemented correctly and being there from the off means we can help educate and also see any potential issues early on and try to mitigate them.

Courtney is excited about her role with APEM and being able to work with a wide range of specialists to provide the best possible outcome and service for our clients. Courtney has already worked with the aquatic team, improving her knowledge in this area of expertise.

APEM’s Courtney Hooper fishing to improve her aquatic expertise

APEM’s Courtney Hooper fishing to improve her aquatic expertise

When asked what the most interesting thing Courtney has come across on site or learned, Courtney told us a few things that may surprise you. Grass snakes secrete a foul-smelling substance from their anal gland as a defence mechanism when deterring predators – making handling grass snakes an extremely unpleasant experience! A much more enjoyable experience for Courtney is searching for dormouse hibernation nests, because on discovery, she gets to listen to them snoring from inside the nest – unfortunately no sleeping on the job for this ecologist!

If you would like to find out more about the variety of terrestrial ecology services APEM offer across the UK and Ireland, click here.

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APEM are a global environmental consultancy providing independent advice and guidance to support government and environmental regulatory guidelines.

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