Baker Consultants

Rae Smith: A Year as Assistant Ecologist at Baker Consultants in Her Own Words

Rae Smith, Assistant Ecologist, tells us how her first year at Baker Consultants has been and the projects she’s been involved in.

I joined Baker Consultants in February 2022 after graduating from the University of Sheffield in summer 2020 with a MBiolSci in Zoology. Finishing university during a pandemic certainly wasn’t ideal, but I focused on gaining survey experience through volunteering with my local Wildlife Trust and bat groups before starting my career with Baker Consultants.

Over the last 12 months I’ve had the opportunity to work on a whole range of projects across the UK, from single-building renovations to large-scale developments. This has been great for gaining experience in a range of survey techniques, including UKHAB botanical surveys, as well as for protected species such as bats, badgers and water voles. Joining a team with such varied expertise to learn from has provided plenty of opportunities for me to ask questions and improve my species identification, as well as my knowledge about their ecology and behaviours.

I am particularly interested in bats, and I’ve had the chance to work on a variety of interesting and complex sites. The most unusual bat roost I’ve worked on was at a theme park, where a giant treasure chest was being used by a soprano pipistrelle! A more complex site also turned up a rare species found to be roosting in a network of disused farm buildings. This required a lot of investigative effort searching for droppings, and using thermal imaging & infra-red cameras to help us to identify roost locations.

Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) calculations are now an integral part of an ecologist’s role and the discipline suits some of us more than others! One project in particular stands out, where the client was aiming to maximise the BNG units delivered by their development. Botanical surveys identified that the site (which consisted primarily of cattle pasture) would be ideal for the creation of lowland heath, along with some acid grassland and woodland planting. This development is now anticipated to deliver over 60% net gain for habitats, which is well in excess of the 10% that will be required by law from this November. It was great to be involved in a project where the client was as keen as the ecology team to create a great space for nature as part of their development.

When I’m not working, I mostly try to get out on walks with my dogs or take my camera out with me. With Fridays off I’ve also had chance to progress a cross-stitching project I’ve been working on for the last year. The 2023 season already looks packed with interesting projects, and I can’t wait to get back out into the field after the quieter winter period.

Baker Consultants gives such varied opportunities to learn about protected species and their habitats, and is always developing new techniques and technologies to make our survey effort more efficient and robust – and all in 4 days a week!

The Baker Consultants team is highly experienced and we are passionate about what we do. If you need advice related to ecology, surveys or conservation, then please get in touch with us via our contact form on the website, or you can call us on +44 (0)1629 593958 or email us on