An innovative idea that started out as a way of reducing the use of single use plastics in ecology surveys has been awarded a top prize at the Chartered Institute Ecology and Environmental Management Awards recently.

The winning idea of the Innovation award was the brain child of Kier Utilities Environmental Advisor, Grace Burdge and involves replacing the plastic zip ties and marker tape used on dormouse nesting tubes during ecology surveys with reusable Velcro.

Nesting tubes are used throughout the industry to assess the presence of dormice in the area surrounding a site. Typically, these are attached to and around trees and left for a period of time prior to work beginning. Traditionally these have been secured in place by plastic zip ties and marker tape which can be dislodged by wildlife and cause them to get caught up.

Grace’s Velcro innovation significantly cuts the risk to wildlife by being totally flexible and non-restrictive. The Velcro straps can also easily be picked up and reused across multiple surveys and projects, providing both an economic and environmental benefit.

Speaking about the award, Grace said: “I am so pleased that my idea to help save wildlife from being harmed from ecological survey work and cutting the use of single purpose plastics has been recognised by the ecological community.”

“This award is testament to the work we are doing in Kier Utilities to offset our impact on the environment and we have now made the use of Velcro mandatory on all our dormouse surveys”

As a result of the award and the recognition that Grace’s idea has received, a number of ecological consultancies have made the voluntary switch from plastic to Velcro.  

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