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 interests 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 in the UK and abroad. 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 internationally important conservation sites across the country. He has led work on strategic mitigation schemes for sites such as the Solent, the Dorset Heaths, the Thames Basin Heaths, the New Forest, the Suffolk Coast, Burnham Beeches, Chilterns Beechwoods, the Norfolk Coast and South East Devon sites (such as the Exe Estuary). Durwyn has led national reviews of the impacts of access in England and Wales. 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 and the RSPB on disturbance issues. He has acted as expert witness at Public Inquiry for the RSPB, Natural Englad and a range of local authority clients.

Durwyn has authored a range of books (most recently co-authoring a guide to British habitats), scientific papers and over 600 consultancy reports. He sits on the board of the Dorset Local Nature Partnership. 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 Wellsprings Aikido.

Chris Panter

Chris Panter

BSc, MCIEEM - Technical Director – 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 brought a wide range of skills from working on a several projects. His role at Footprint has always been focused towards the management of large databases and analysis of visitor surveys, and GIS mapping. One of the key datasets is from visitor counters placed on many of Dorset heaths, that record the number of people entering sites, and this database now amounts to 4 million data rows. Chris has managed numerous visitor surveys and has progressed through roles of Ecologist and Senior Ecologist to Technical Director. He also continues his research with colleagues at the University of East Anglia and Manchester Metropolitan University.

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

Sophie Lake

Sophie Lake

BSc, PhD - Director
Broad experience in conservation & applied research with special interest in grazing, and helping Footprint become employee owned

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, facilitating stakeholder engagement and public consultations as well as monitoring and evaluation of HLF projects.

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.


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, keeping track of progress and balancing workloads. She is heavily involved in tendering for new work, as well as general business administration including HR, Health & Safety, accounts and facilities management. She answers the phone and makes sure there are always biscuits. As Company Secretary she ensures the company meets its legal obligations and is insured.  In the past she has run her own organic food business and was a member of the senior management team at a large wholefoods co-operative.

Fenella is a keen gardener, and loves to grow her own flowers and vegetables whilst creating abundant habitat for wildlife. She also enjoys cycling, keeping chickens and walking her dog.

Phil Saunders

Phil Saunders

BSc, MSc, PhD - Principal Ecologist
Research ecologist with ornithological & GIS expertise plus special interest in outreach and training provision

Phil has spent most of his career working within the environment and education sector, having been employed as both a research ecologist and a lecturer in ecology and biodiversity at the University of East Anglia, and as a generalist ecologist for a range of environmental consultancies. He has particular expertise in ornithological survey design and provision, and has worked on a variety of international bird research projects.

Following his first degree in Applied Environmental Science, and a Masters in Conservation Science at Imperial College London, Phil completed his PhD at UEA, in association with the British Trust for Ornithology, examining the effects of habitat and climate change upon Mediterranean populations of the European Roller, using geolocator and GPS tagging technology to identify habitat usage and migration routes. He was subsequently employed as a research ecologist in Uzbekistan monitoring the movements and productivity of Asian Houbara Bustards fitted with satellite tags.

Phil has well developed skills in ecological survey techniques (and ornithological surveys in particular), public consultations, project management, report writing, and training provision. He is also highly technically competent in the use of GIS and a range of statistical software, including R and SPSS. At Footprint he leads on ornithological research and visitor surveys, and facilitation and stakeholder engagement.

Outside of Footprint Phil is a passionate ornithologist and all round naturalist, with extensive knowledge of many taxa, and running moth traps at home and work, where he has been working on his micro-moth identification.


Zoe Caals

Zoe Caals

BSc, Senior Ecologist
Visitor survey design, data analysis and reporting

Zoe is a maths graduate with many years experience of working for local authorities and environmental organisations. She is skilled in using GIS (QGIS, ArcGIS, MapInfo and Cadcorp) to analyse and present spatial data, and is also proficient in using Excel and Access to work with large datasets.

Zoe's previous work experience includes roles as an information analyst for a large county council, GIS officer for a national park authority and Biological Recording Coordinator for an environmental records centre. She has also worked as a countryside ranger and has experience of carrying out various ecological surveys. Zoe has volunteered for several organisations including Butterfly Conservation, Trees for Life, National Trust, various Wildlife Trusts, Orca and New Zealand's Department of Conservation.

Zoe joined Footprint to assist with data entry but has since become indispensable as a Senior Recreation Ecologist. She has worked and led on a range of projects, but particularly visitor surveys, involving survey and questionnaire design, mapping, analysis and report writing. She has excellent GIS skills and can be relied upon to produce great looking maps from spatial data.

In her own time Zoe is an all round naturalist and enjoys wildlife gardening.

Emily Rush

Emily Rush

BSc, MSc

Emily's first degree was in Zoology with Conservation, followed more recently by an MSc in Biodiversity and Conservation from the University of Exeter. During her time at university Emily studied a range of subjects including Conservation Management and Life in a Changing Climate, and she used a range of statistical tools including R and GIS. Her final year project aimed to understand the population demographics of common cuttlefish in Cornwall, an area where fishing of this species is largely unregulated.

Emily's previous work experience includes roles as a data assistant for a market research company, as well as seasonal positions as a swimming teacher and water sports instructor whilst working in the United States.

At Footprint Ecology Emily primarily assists with data entry but also undertakes visitor survey work, spatial mapping and assists with Habitats Regulations Assessments.

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