St Kilda Facility Upgrade
Practecology provides Ecological Clerks of Works support on World Heritage Site
During 2017 Practecology provided on site support for the re-development of infrastructure on St. Kilda, part of the small island archipelago in the north western Atlantic. Our main role was to ensure compliance with the Construction Environmental Management Plan but also to carry out surveys for a range of endemic species, including the St Kilda fieldmouse and St. Kilda wren.
St Kilda lies 64 kilometres off the coast of Benbecula in the outer Hebrides and can only be reached by charter boat or helicopter. However, owing to rough seas, not an uncommon feature of the north Atlantic, Practecology was to reach the island by helicopter. This required our ecologists to attend Helicopter Underwater Escape Training - quite an exciting course if you like being dunked in a swimming pool within a mock airframe….and then turned upside down! However, the plus side was getting to don a flight suit and getting a helicopter ride to one of the most fascinating places in Scotland.
Environmental Protection and Surveys
Throughout the spring and summer Practecology undertook weekly environmental audits of the site; completed bird surveys; advised on turf removal and storage; ensured appropriate pollution prevention and control measures were in place at all times; carried out Biosecurity monitoring during the delivery of construction material by boat; acted as an ecological clerk of works during archaeological investigation, and; liaised closely with the site manager.
Given it’s remote location both field mice and wrens exist as sub-species and have slightly different appearances compared to that of their mainland cousins, both also being slightly larger. Similarly, the St. Kilda dandelion, a new species identified as recently as 2012, also persists throughout the island - provided of course it can evade the hungry mouths of Soay sheep!
In addition to the remarkable species found on St. Kilda, the old village abandoned in 1930 by the islanders is well worth a visit. A walk down “The Street” at sunset, to the calls of fulmars and the sounds of the Atlantic rollers breaking in the bay is quite an unforgettable experience.