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.
Josh Sowden, M.Sc. ACIEEM – Senior 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 – Ecologist
Sofia joined the Bernwood Ecology team in March 2020, and holds a Natural England licence (Class 1) for great crested newts. 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 a bat class licence, and continues to develop her skills as an ecologist working alongside senior colleagues.
Zoe Paraskevopoulou, M.Biol. CIEEM Qualifying Member – 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.
Matt Davis, B.Sc. CIEEM Qualifying Member – Assistant Ecologist
Matt joined the Bernwood Ecology team in February 2022. Matt has experience as a seasonal ecological surveyor working on great crested newt, badger and bat surveys, as well as acting as an Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW) on high level infrastructure.
Matt has a B.Sc. degree in Zoology with an special interest in Ecological Consultancy from the University of Derby and is looking to continue building on his skillset with the help of his experienced colleagues.
Sally Freemantle, M.Sc. CIEEM Qualifying Member – Assistant Ecologist
Sally joined Bernwood Ecology in September 2022, having previously worked with the team as a self-employed ecological surveyor. She has experience surveying for bats, great crested newts and water voles. Sally has also volunteered her time to carry out biodiversity surveys and coordinate a team of surveyors for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). She holds a trainee permit to ring birds with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and assists in barn owl and raptor conservation tasks on a voluntary basis.
Sally achieved a B.Sc. (Hons) in Applied Animal Studies and recently graduated with an MSc in Conservation Ecology at Oxford Brookes University. She is passionate about all aspects of ecology and is excited to be developing her skills as an assistant ecologist.
Sue Damant – Company Secretary
Sue joined Bernwood in 1998 and has worked as the company secretary ever since. She has previously 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.
Enya Damant – Accounts Manager
Enya joined Bernwood Ecology as the accounts manager in May 2022. She assists the business with finances, staff development, inventory management and social media. She has a B.Sc. degree in Geography and Environmental Hazards from the University of Derby, where she explored how social media affects charitable aid in her dissertation. In 2021, Enya interned with the British Red Cross, liaising with donors, balancing budgets and managing social media accounts, as part of efforts that raised at least £80k in four months.