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Sylvia Jay BSc (Hons) MSc MCIEEM - Associate

Sylvia Jay is an experienced consultant ecologist, specialising in protected species and their habitats. She carries out comprehensive assessments of the impacts of development proposals and designs proportionate and pragmatic mitigation, as well as advising on the design of management plans and conservation projects. She is skilled at managing large scale survey projects involving teams of field staff.

Sylvia is a nationally recognised otter expert with over twenty years of experience in urban and rural otter survey and habitat assessment and in habitat creation, management and mitigation design. She has been on the teams of English and Scottish national surveys, as well as may river catchment scale surveys across Yorkshire. This expertise is supplemented by her water vole ecology and conservation skills and she has managed and conducted large scale water vole surveys for the Environment Agency and the private sector, as well as mitigation and watercourse management plans.

Sylvia has delivered surveys, mitigation plans and advice on aggregate quarries, micro-hydropower schemes, fish passes and flood defence schemes, as well as a wide range of developments where otters and water voles may be impacted.

Sylvia is also an established trainer on otter, water vole and amphibian surveys and conservation and has delivered training to conservation and land management professionals including Environment Agency and DEFRA staff, as well as training and mentoring Haycock and Jay Associates staff. She is skilled at running volunteer survey projects.

She has an eye for detail and accuracy and regards herself as a good creative thinker in identifying opportunities and seeking solutions to practical problems. Her guiding principles are attention to detail and fairness, which she applies to all the work that she does. She also firmly believes that the key to successful projects is excellent communication between all parties.

Sylvia holds a Natural England licence enabling her to use endoscopes and cameras at otter resting sites. She is registered to use Class Licence  WML-CL08 (Great Crested Newt Class 1) permitting her to survey for Great Crested Newts using bottle trapping, netting, torching and egg searching methods.

Benefits of using camera trap technology

Sylvia supplements her excellent survey skills with the use of camera trap technology to discreetly log and analyse otter activity. This enables her to gain a more complete understanding of the significance of particular habitat features to otters, from identifying important breeding dens to ruling out otter use of potential resting sites.

In many situations it is important to identify otter resting sites (otherwise known as holts or lying up sites) since they form an important component of otter habitat and are legally protected if in current or recent use. If field signs, including spraints (faeces) and footprints, are present at a potential resting site its use as such cannot be ruled out. However, such evidence may be misleading, perhaps suggesting that the site is more significant than it is, or conversely belying its importance. The use of camera traps can reduce ambiguity and is valuable in informing impact assessments and licence applications.