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Embracing commercial opportunities


In these uncertain financial times, BTO has taken steps to diversify its income sources to fund its outstanding science. Last year Combined Ecology, the BTO’s new international consultancy, was launched as part of this new approach.

The launch of Combined Ecology in late 2014 was a milestone for BTO. Our reputation for independence and impartiality has long been used in commercial projects and our new international consultancy will bring these under one umbrella. Increasing commercial projects is a key part of our strategy to diversify BTO’s income and the surplus generated will be ploughed back in to BTO science. We will be undertaking a broad portfolio of work, both within the UK and abroad, ranging from “traditional” BTO research (surveys, training, statistical advice, etc.) to the development of new technologies. Our ethos is to use in-country biodiversity specialists where we can and to have a mix of international and local experts in our field teams.

Many of our projects will involve impact assessments. The BTO is already a leader in assessing the impacts of renewable energy, particularly offshore wind and tidal power, on bird populations. Combined Ecology will work with developers to help them achieve their objectives in line with international environmental standards, and also with regulators and conservation organisations to provide sustainable evidence-based solutions to development issues. This is where our impartiality and scientific approach is a real strength.

Combined Ecology is still a fledgling part of the BTO, but it has already diversified the work we carry out. By partnering with experts in other taxa, we have significantly broadened what we can offer clients and this will allow us to develop our work on internationally. In embracing new technology we will not only benefit BTO’s work, but also offer a broad range of services to clients which will ultimately lead to a more secure future for BTO and BTO science.

Excerpt from the BTO Annual Review 2015

Author: Phil Atkinson; Science Director Combined Ecology