Core staff

We are professional, experienced ecologists

We take pride in being a flexible, responsive and friendly team, whilst maintaining the highest standards of professionalism and integrity. We also work closely with a range of associates and subcontractors who offer complementary skills.

Durwyn Liley

Durwyn Liley

BSc, PhD, MCIEEM - Director
International experience with a special interest in birds and bird conservation, human disturbance and access issues

Durwyn is one of the founders of Footprint Ecology and a national expert on bird disturbance, recreation and visitor surveys. Durwyn’s doctoral research was the first study to address the population consequences of human disturbance for a breeding bird species. Combining access data and ecological data to understand human disturbance have remained key research throughout his conservation career. Prior to Footprint Ecology Durwyn worked for the RSPB, for Butterfly Conservation, for Birdlife International and for English Nature.

Birds have always been an over-riding passion since childhood and Durwyn has worked on a wide variety of species and bird conservation projects – including work in Canada, Pakistan, Indonesia, Paraguay, Israel, Bolivia, Fiji and New Zealand. Durwyn is a keen all round naturalist with a wider interest within the UK that encompasses mammals, invertebrates and plants.

With Footprint Ecology, Durwyn has led a range of projects involving the impacts of people on the environment, particularly work on the impacts and management of access. His work has underpinned planning policy relating to SPAs in a range of locations across the country. In particular, work involving Annex I birds and development issues in the Thames Basin Heaths, the Dorset Heaths, the Solent, the Suffolk Sandlings and the Brecks have had a high profile. Durwyn has led national reviews of the impacts of access for Natural England and for CCW. Other work at national level has involved work on estuaries and development pressure, a review of Natural England's approach to access monitoring and work to review the management of disturbance impacts on Marine Protected Areas.He has run training courses across the country for Natural England staff on bird disturbance.

Durwyn has authored a range of books (most recently co-authoring a guide to British habitats), scientific papers and over 200 consultancy reports. He has acted as an external advisor for HLF and has reviewed papers for journals including Journal of Applied Ecology, Oryx, Bird Study and Ibis. Technical skills include project management, statistical analysis and GIS.

Outside of Footprint Ecology and natural history, Durwyn’s interests include yoga and aikido; he trains with Wellspring Aikido.

John Day

John Day

BSc, PhD, MRSB, CBiol, CEnv, MCIEEM, FRICS (Retd) - Director
Highly experienced project lead working for more than forty years in the profession

John published his first paper (on rooks) back in 1975 and has since published papers and reports on aspects of the management of wetlands, heathlands, uplands and coastland habitats and their birds. He studied the breeding and feeding ecology of birds of prey for his PhD research and has published and contributed to a wide range of journal papers, reports and books. John is a past external examiner for two universities and has given a course of lectures for a third and acted as a supervisor for a number of masters and PhD students. He is a chartered biologist, a member of the IEEM and a (retd) Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. He has considerable experience of practical conservation land management at both ground and executive levels, and was employed for nearly 40 years as a warden, reserve manager, head land agent and ecologist by the RSPB.

Since setting up Footprint Ecology with Durwyn, John has led on a wide diversity of projects including management planning of nationally important wetland, heathland, woodland and coastal sites and Habitat Regulation Assessments and mitigation plans for nature reserve visitor management. He is an expert on the management of common land, and has advised on, produced management plans for and carried out public consultations on numerous commons. This has included the successful submission of fencing and grazing schemes. He contributed to a series of guidance notes on the management of commons by local communities and to the revision of “A Common Purpose”, guidance on public consultations on commons. John has produced reviews on heathland management issues, including urban effects, visitor patterns and deer grazing, as well as contributing to condition assessments, water level management plans and a number of wider land use studies. John has given evidence to a Government Select Committee and served as an expert witness at nearly a dozen public inquiries including major national inquiries into large housing and industrial developments as well as smaller inquiries into local issues.

John has run numerous training courses into the ecology and management of heathlands, uplands and coastal ecosystems, plant identification and vegetation classification and the law and management of commons. He has a particular interest in Mediterranean land use and ecology and has carried out practical studies for the Greek Forest Service on the bird and plant communities of sub-montane woodland and scrub.

Fenella Lewin

Fenella Lewin

BSc, PGCert Man - Practice Manager
Fulfills a key administrative role, ensuring the smooth running of Footprint Ecology

Fenella is a history graduate, with a special interest in the history of science, and a postgraduate certificate in management. She also studied Biology, Chemistry and Maths to A-Level after graduating.

Fenella is responsible for seeing contracts through from inception to completion, managing logistics and finances, Health & Safety and general business administration. Fenella’s background in organic food and farming has led to a strong interest in sustainable farming and land management. She was a member of the senior management team at a large wholefoods wholesaler for five years, and ran her own business for 6 years.

Fenella is a self-confessed bad birdwatcher, but her id skills are slowly improving. An organic gardener since her teens, she is delighted to have found a cottage with a large vegetable garden, and open countryside on the doorstep.

Sophie Lake

Sophie Lake

BSc, PhD - Senior Ecologist
Bringing a broad range of experience in conservation and applied research with a special interest in grazing

Sophie has more than twenty years of experience in conservation and applied research, having worked for Norfolk Wildlife Trust, University of East Anglia, Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, RSPB, and the Grazing Animals Project (for The Wildlife Trusts) before joining Footprint Ecology in 2009. During this time she also completed her PhD looking at the role of livestock grazing in the conservation of lowland heathland, based in Dorset. Sophie has also worked abroad in Bolivia and Fiji for Birdlife International and has carried out research on aquatic pollution in the south of France.

Sophie’s key interests are in habitat conservation and sustainable land management. While at Footprint she has continued her work on extensive grazing, leading projects assessing the impacts of grazing on habitats and species and designing grazing plans. She is particularly interested in the interactions between increasing peoples’ “nature connectedness” and conserving wildlife, and has led projects assessing recreational impacts on designated sites and creating visitor strategies. She also works on visitor surveys, habitat management plans, common land consultations, HRAs and biological surveys.

Sophie has written and contributed to a variety of published papers and reports, and is co-author of Britain’s Habitats, a guide to wildlife habitats. She has also edited national conference proceedings, a habitat management handbook and a series of leaflets on the management of commons. As a qualified trainer, Sophie has led and contributed to training courses for conservation land managers and farmers. She also has extensive experience of organising training courses, field trips, workshops and seminars, including a national conference.

Sophie's passion for wild places and interest in Deep Ecology led her to co-found Values in Nature and the Environment (VINE), exploring and supporting the inspiration and vision underlying nature conservation. Her wider interests include running an eco-club for primary school children and studying and practising as an apprentice herbalist with Sensory Solutions.

Rachel Hoskin

Rachel Hoskin

BSc, MSc, MCIEEM - Senior Planning Ecologist
Bringing expertise in planning & biodiversity and application of the Habitats Regulations

Rachel is a planning ecologist with expertise in planning and biodiversity-related legislation and policy, and in particular the application of protected sites legislation within spatial planning. Rachel worked for Footprint Ecology on a part-time basis for seven years whilst also employed as a national specialist in planning and biodiversity by Natural England, before joining the Footprint Ecology team on a full-time basis in 2016. Rachel is based on the edge of the Peak District in North Derbyshire, providing a northern hub for our work and closer connection with our northern clients.

Rachel leads on our Habitats Regulations Assessment work, and specialises in strategic and integrated approaches to embedding biodiversity into the planning system, including strategic mitigation schemes for designated sites and applying the mitigation hierarchy through net gain and biodiversity offsetting initiatives.

In addition to valuable experience gained from working for Natural England, Rachel also has previous experience from working as a local authority ecologist and also with David Tyldesley and Associates.

Her breadth of knowledge in both the public and private sector enables her to work positively with our clients and fully understand the importance of finding workable solutions and justified approaches to biodiversity protection within the planning system, whilst at the same time being very passionate about the opportunities that spatial planning presents for making a real contribution to biodiversity restoration and enhancement.

Rachel brings additional expertise in training delivery, having developed and run training courses on the Habitats Regulations for a number of years.

Outside of work, Rachel enjoys running and also volunteers with dog rescue charities, which includes fostering and rehabilitating rescue dogs. Rachel is a qualified dog behaviourist and has a keen interest in the psychology of dogs and dog owners, bringing added expertise to projects dealing with recreation pressure on designated sites.

Rachel has a BSc in Environmental Science, MSc in Conservation Biology, a Diploma in Arctic Studies and a UCert in Biological Recording and Species Identification. She is a member of CIEEM.

Chris Panter

Chris Panter

Senior Ecologist – Data Analysis & GIS
Research Ecologist with expertise in statistical analysis, large datasets and GIS

Chris’ specialism is in ecological analysis and Geographical Information Systems. His work areas are often research focused and he has produced a number of peer-reviewed publications all using GIS or large dataset analysis. Chris has a variety of interests including spatial datasets, Biodiversity Audits, plant dispersal by grazing animals and bird movements.

Following his graduation in Ecology in 2010, Chris was employed as a researcher at the University of East Anglia, working primarily on Biodiversity Audits in Eastern England. These collated species observations from records centres and coded rare species for their management requirements to assess the important habitats, structures and management actions unique to each region. While at UEA, Chris was involved in other projects; including using bird movement data, especially large-scale migration routes, but also local habitat use in relation to satellite produced vegetation measures.

Chris joined Footprint Ecology in October 2014 as an Analyst and brings a wide range of skills from working on a several projects. His role at Footprint is focused towards the management of large databases from visitor counters and analysis of visitor surveys, and GIS mapping. One of the key datasets is from visitor counters placed on many of Dorset heaths, in a project first started almost 10 years ago. The automated counters record hourly number of people entering sites, and this database now amounts to 4 million data rows. While at Footprint, Chris also continues his research with colleagues at the University of East Anglia and Manchester Metropolitan University.

Chris is passionate about insect conservation and recently started species identification; particularly of solitary bees and wasps. His other interests include woodworking, painting, and exploring Dorset.

Gavin Saunders

Gavin Saunders

Senior Ecologist - BSc, MSc Dip
Senior Ecologist with expertise in community engagement & facilitation, landscape scale ecology and outdoor education.

Gavin is an ecologist and conservationist with 30 years experience in a variety of roles, having worked with NGOs and government agencies; and as as a freelancer, chair of a charity and founder of a social enterprise. He has a BSc Environmental Biology, and an MSc Dip Nature Conservation. He has loved wild places since childhood, and has a commitment to connecting people - as individuals and communities - with and through the natural world.

Gavin began his career as a botanical surveyor, working on  the Woodlands chapter of the NVC, and as a grasslands surveyor. Subsequently he worked for Devon Wildlife Trust, ultimately becoming Director of Conservation & Education, including leading the Culm Grassland conservation strategy in northern Devon. After a period of freelance work focused on community participation and landscape scale habitat restoration, in more recent years Gavin led the Neroche Landscape Partnership scheme for the Forestry Commission on the Blackdown Hills, which restored 220 hectares of forestry plantation to open habitats, created long-distance trails and produced a book about local history, culture and nature. He also facilitated the creation of several local community groups including the Blackdown Hills Rough Grazing Association, the Blackdown Hills Trust and the Neroche Conservation Volunteers.

Gavin's key skills revolve around project management and analysis, report writing, group facilitation, community engagement, practical land management, applied landscape ecology, field botanical assessment, and outdoor education and training. His experience and interests span ecology, culture, community and personal relationships with the wild.

As well as working with Footprint Gavin is co-director of the Neroche Woodlanders, a woodland based social enterprise near Taunton which he founded with his partner in 2012. He is chair of BANC, the British Association of Ecologists and publisher of the online journal ECOS.

Outside of work Gavin is happiest walking in the mountains, doing green woodwork, making go-karts with his children, and watching badgers.

Jim White

Jim White

MBE, BSc (Hons) - Senior Ecologist
30 years of experience in conservation for NCC and English Nature, identifying and securing SSSIs, SAC, SPA and RAMSAR sites

Jim White worked for some 30 years for the predecessor bodies to Natural England. As Conservation officer for NCC and then English Nature in Dorset, Jim had direct responsibility for the identification and designation of a range of sites across the county including most of the county’s140 SSSIs. Later, as Team Manager, he led the team which secured the designation of the entire suite of heathlands as SAC, SPA and RAMSAR sites, Poole Harbour as an SPA and RAMSAR site, and the inscription of the Dorset coast as a major part of the only natural World Heritage Site in England. Jim has extensive experience of European legislation on wildlife conservation including the Habitat and Birds Directives and the UK legislation that flows from these. He has acted in numerous public inquiries both as expert witness and advocate. Jim’s considerable experience extends to the field, and he is a notable naturalist. On retiring from Natural England, Jim was elected to serve as a Trustee for the Dorset Wildlife Trust and currently chairs the Trust's Conservation Panel. In 2008 Jim was awarded an MBE for services to nature conservation in Dorset.

Rob McGibbon

Rob McGibbon

BSc, PhD - Ecologist
Specialist in plant science & agricultural botany, with extensive field work in several European countries

Rob’s degree in plant sciences was followed by a PhD in agricultural botany and a period of employment as a university research assistant, including extensive field work in several European countries and work at research institutes. Having always had a keen interest in all aspects of natural history and nature conservation, he changed career path in 1982, to be employed by the Nature Conservancy Council. He worked for five years in Dorset on the identification, survey and notification of special sites, and for a further three years as NCC county officer for Nottinghamshire.

Between 1990 and 2009 he developed and managed the Surrey Heathland Project for Surrey County Council, successfully restoring large areas of lowland heathland and securing the funds and the practical mechanisms for long-term management including re-establishing grazing on many of the heaths. His knowledge of farming and livestock and his experience of liaison with landowners enabled him to find common ground with individuals, local authorities, voluntary groups and large land owning bodies including MoD.

Now settled again in Dorset, Rob mixes his passion for wildlife and nature conservation with gardening, walking and archaeology, while his artistic talents are proving invaluable in the production of literature and display material.

Contact us to discuss your project

We’re always ready to talk about your requirements, so please do get in touch today

Tel: +44 (0)1929 552444