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My working day: JFA ecologist Adam Earl

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The ecologist at JFA Environmental Planning doesn’t have a regular working day but they all start early with feeding his three chickens

I have been an ecologist at JFA Environmental Planning for almost two years. JFA is a medium sized company, based in London. It has recently expanded into Kent and Sussex and I currently work out of the Sussex office in Haywards Heath. This area was chosen because of its close proximity to the sites owned by some of our biggest clients.

Clarifying ‘my working day’ isn’t all that easy but that’s what I love about my job; no day is the same. As an ecologist you have to be flexible to the needs of your client, whether it be meeting a sub-contractor on site at 7.30am for a ‘toolbox talk’ or carrying out a bat survey in the dead of night.

My average day, however, usually starts with a rude awakening by my three girls Pingu, Audrey and Dipper….my chickens. After they’ve been satisfied with a handful of corn, I head to the office for 8.30am, to check my emails and plan for the day ahead.

My most recent work has been carrying out and compiling an ecological assessment for a large residential development in Haywards Heath to support a planning application that is due for submission. Survey work can be season dependent; therefore it is essential that ecological considerations are taken into account at an early planning stage to ensure timelines are adhered to without constraint.

My day is broken up by monitoring visits to site. Regular monitoring ensures that the client adheres to their conditions of planning and legislation and has immediate advice on the best course of action should an ecological issue arise.

Ecologists sometimes receive a bad press in the construction world and can be used as scapegoats if works fall behind schedule.  However, if ecological constraints are taken into consideration at an early stage it needn’t be a hindrance. Through sensitive site planning ecological constraints can often be alleviated by incorporating a species/habitat into the site design benefitting both the client and biodiversity.

One of the benefits of my work is the diversity of people I get to meet and liaise with. As an ecologist I get to work with everyone from sub-contractors to technical staff to local community organisations to help find a solution to fit everyone’s needs.

My typical day will begin to wrap up around 4.30pm so I can head home to feast on some fresh eggs before heading off to football training.

Adam Earl is an ecologist at JFA Environmental Planning.

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