Our Team

Our ecologists are registered CIEEM members, with each ecologist working within their licences and competencies while continuing their professional development through training. All staff members foster a collaborative environment and great emphasis is placed on our quality assurance processes.

Chris Damant MCIEEM – Director and Principal Ecologist
Chris co-founded Bernwood Ecology in 1998, initially working on delivering key infrastructure projects for the new city of Milton Keynes and advising landowners on biodiversity in farming. Chris holds Natural England survey/research licences for bats (Classes 3 & 4), fully licensing him to use a range of capture techniques, including mist netting, harp trapping, and hand netting; and is a registered consultant on the Bat Mitigation Class License (BMCL) and the Bats in Churches Class Licence (BICCL). His work with churches in particular showcases his years of experience and understanding of bat ecology through unique and intuitive mitigation solutions to resolve bat-and-church conflicts. Chris also holds a Natural England Science and Education licence (Class 1) for great crested newts and an Education licence to possess great crested newts.

Proficient in all aspects of Natural History, Chris is especially interested in calcareous grassland communities and European species of bats, undertaking studies in Europe (Poland and Lokrum Island, Croatia) and studying the Bechstein’s bat in the UK. In his spare time, Chris experiments with new technologies that he can apply to the observation of wildlife, including the use of motion cameras, thermal imaging, digital camera and laser counting techniques.

Emily Dickins, M.Sc. MCIEEM – Senior Ecologist
Emily has worked for Bernwood Ecology since February 2012. She holds Natural England survey/research licences for bats (Classes 3 & 4), fully licensing her to use a range of capture techniques, including mist netting, harp trapping, and hand netting; and is a registered consultant on the Bats in Churches Class Licence (BICCL). Emily also holds a Natural England Science and Education licence (Class 1) for great crested newts and an Education licence to possess great crested newts. She has led school interactive education days on urban wildlife.

Emily graduated from Cranfield University, Bedfordshire, with a M.Sc. in Land Management specialising in Ecological Conservation. Outside of work, Emily led a project that identified a previously undiscovered colony of Barbastelle bats, which will be subject to further study in future years in joint collaboration with cross border Bat Groups from North Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire.

Josh Sowden, M.Sc. ACIEEM – Ecologist
Josh has worked with Bernwood Ecology since 2019, joining full-time in October 2019. He holds a Natural England Science and Education licence (Class 1) for great crested newts and a Natural England survey/research licence for bats (Class 2). Josh is experienced in developing mitigation strategies for reptiles and amphibians, and carrying out breeding bird surveys. Josh has been a key member of the ecologist team in the Bats in Churches projects, and continues to develop his understanding of bat mitigation and compensation strategies.

Josh is a graduate of University of Plymouth, undertaking a M.Sc. in Environmental Consultancy. He has worked in ecological consultancy since 2013, undertaking field surveys for a variety of species and habitats, data analysis, digital mapping, and report writing.

Sofia Sanchez, M.Sc. CIEEM Qualifying Member – Assistant Ecologist
Sofia joined the Bernwood Ecology team in March 2020. Prior to Bernwood Ecology, Sofia worked as a seasonal surveyor conducting great crested newt and bat surveys, and volunteered with a range of charities and other organisations such as the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and The Parks Trust in Milton Keynes.

Sofia is a M.Sc. graduate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology of the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Sofia is working towards great crested newt and bat class licences, and continues to develop her skills as an ecologist working alongside senior colleagues.

Zoe Paraskevopoulou, M.Biol. – Assistant Ecologist
Zoe joined the Bernwood Ecology team in July 2021. Zoe has experience in surveying multiple ecosystems, mammal ecology, freshwater ecology of macroinvertebrates; and is proficient in data analysis, report writing and map creation. She is looking to improve her ecological surveying skills and is currently working towards her great crested newt and bat class licences.

A recent Master’s graduate in Biology of the University of St Andrews, Zoe created a habitat suitability map for the reintroduction of swift fox in NE Montana. Her abilities have been recognised with the “Andrew Oliver Memorial Prize”, awarded to students distinguished for biological field studies.

Tanishia Gearing, B.Sc. – Assistant Ecologist
Tanishia joined the Bernwood Ecology team in April 2021. Prior to Bernwood Ecology, Tanishia investigated new eco-friendly lighting alternatives on bat behaviour across Devon and Cornwall with the University of Sussex, The Devon Greater Horseshow Project and Phillips.

Tanishia graduated from the University of Sussex with a B.Sc. in Zoology and is currently studying for her M.Res. in Animal Behaviour at Newcastle University alongside her work at Bernwood Ecology.

Sue Damant – Director and Company Secretary
Sue co-founded Bernwood Ecology in 1998 and has worked as the company secretary since. Before launching the company, she worked for The National Trust, including Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire, and Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire.

Sue can assist with any enquiries and offer administrative support in relation to our business.