Core staff

We are professional, experienced ecologists

We take pride in being a flexible, responsive and friendly team, whilst maintaining the highest standards of professionalism and integrity. We also work closely with a range of associates and subcontractors who offer complementary skills.

Durwyn Liley

Durwyn Liley

BSc, PhD, MCIEEM - Director
International experience with a special interest in birds and bird conservation, human disturbance and access issues

Durwyn is one of the founders of Footprint Ecology and a national expert on bird disturbance, recreation and visitor surveys. Durwyn’s doctoral research was the first study to address the population consequences of human disturbance for a breeding bird species. Combining access data and ecological data to understand human disturbance have remained key research interests throughout his conservation career. Prior to Footprint Ecology Durwyn worked for the RSPB, for Butterfly Conservation, for Birdlife International and for English Nature.

Birds have always been an over-riding passion since childhood and Durwyn has worked on a wide variety of species and bird conservation projects – including work in Canada, Pakistan, Indonesia, Paraguay, Israel, Bolivia, Fiji and New Zealand. Durwyn is a keen all round naturalist with a wider interest within the UK that encompasses mammals, invertebrates and plants.

With Footprint Ecology, Durwyn has led a range of projects involving the impacts of people on the environment, particularly work on the impacts and management of access. His work has underpinned planning policy relating to European sites in a range of locations across the country. In particular, work involving Annex I birds and development issues in the Thames Basin Heaths, the Dorset Heaths, the Solent, the Suffolk Sandlings and the Brecks have had a high profile. Durwyn has led national reviews of the impacts of access in England and Wales. Other work at national level has involved work on estuaries and development pressure, a review of Natural England's approach to access monitoring and work to review the management of disturbance impacts on Marine Protected Areas.He has run training courses across the country for Natural England staff and the RSPB on disturbance issues.

Durwyn has authored a range of books (most recently co-authoring a guide to British habitats), scientific papers and over 400 consultancy reports. He has acted as an external advisor for HLF and is on the board of the Dorset Local Nature Partnership. Technical skills include project management, statistical analysis and GIS.

Outside of Footprint Ecology and natural history, Durwyn’s interests include yoga and aikido; he trains with Wellspring Aikido.

Chris Panter

Chris Panter

BSc, MCIEEM - Technical Director – Data Analysis & GIS
Research Ecologist with expertise in statistical analysis, large datasets and GIS

Chris’ specialism is in ecological analysis and Geographical Information Systems. His work areas are often research focused and he has produced a number of peer-reviewed publications all using GIS or large dataset analysis. Chris has a variety of interests including spatial datasets, Biodiversity Audits, plant dispersal by grazing animals and bird movements.

Following his graduation in Ecology in 2010, Chris was employed as a researcher at the University of East Anglia, working primarily on Biodiversity Audits in Eastern England. These collated species observations from records centres and coded rare species for their management requirements to assess the important habitats, structures and management actions unique to each region. While at UEA, Chris was involved in other projects; including using bird movement data, especially large-scale migration routes, but also local habitat use in relation to satellite produced vegetation measures.

Chris joined Footprint Ecology in October 2014 as an Analyst and brings a wide range of skills from working on a several projects. His role at Footprint is focused towards the management of large databases from visitor counters and analysis of visitor surveys, and GIS mapping. One of the key datasets is from visitor counters placed on many of Dorset heaths, in a project first started almost 10 years ago. The automated counters record hourly number of people entering sites, and this database now amounts to 4 million data rows. While at Footprint, Chris also continues his research with colleagues at the University of East Anglia and Manchester Metropolitan University.

Chris is passionate about insect conservation and recently started species identification; particularly of solitary bees and wasps. His other interests include woodworking, painting, and exploring Dorset.

Fenella Lewin

Fenella Lewin

BSc, PGCert Man - Practice Manager
Fulfills a key administrative role, ensuring the smooth running of Footprint Ecology

Fenella is a history graduate, with a special interest in the history of science, and a postgraduate certificate in management. She also studied Biology, Chemistry and Maths to A-Level after graduating.

Fenella is responsible for seeing contracts through from inception to completion, managing logistics and finances, Health & Safety and general business administration. Fenella’s background in organic food and farming has led to a strong interest in sustainable farming and land management. She was a member of the senior management team at a large wholefoods wholesaler for five years, and ran her own business for 6 years.

Fenella is a self-confessed bad birdwatcher, but her id skills are slowly improving. An organic gardener since her teens, she is delighted to have found a cottage with a large vegetable garden, and open countryside on the doorstep.

Sophie Lake

Sophie Lake

BSc, PhD - Principal Ecologist
Bringing a broad range of experience in conservation and applied research with a special interest in grazing

Sophie has more than twenty years of experience in conservation and applied research, having worked for Norfolk Wildlife Trust, University of East Anglia, Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, RSPB, and the Grazing Animals Project (for The Wildlife Trusts) before joining Footprint Ecology in 2009. During this time she also completed her PhD looking at the role of livestock grazing in the conservation of lowland heathland, based in Dorset. Sophie has also worked abroad in Bolivia and Fiji for Birdlife International and has carried out research on aquatic pollution in the south of France.

Sophie’s key interests are in habitat conservation and sustainable land management. While at Footprint she has continued her work on extensive grazing, leading projects assessing the impacts of grazing on habitats and species and designing grazing plans. She is particularly interested in the interactions between increasing peoples’ “nature connectedness” and conserving wildlife, and has led projects assessing recreational impacts on designated sites and creating visitor strategies. She also works on visitor surveys, habitat management plans, common land consultations, HRAs and biological surveys.

Sophie has written and contributed to a variety of published papers and reports, and is co-author of Britain’s Habitats, a guide to wildlife habitats. She has also edited national conference proceedings, a habitat management handbook and a series of leaflets on the management of commons. As a qualified trainer, Sophie has led and contributed to training courses for conservation land managers and farmers. She also has extensive experience of organising training courses, field trips, workshops and seminars, including a national conference.

Sophie's passion for wild places and interest in Deep Ecology led her to co-found Values in Nature and the Environment (VINE), exploring and supporting the inspiration and vision underlying nature conservation. Her wider interests include running an eco-club for primary school children and studying and practising as an apprentice herbalist with Sensory Solutions.

Sophie currently works part-time at Footprint, spending the remainder of her time managing the Dorset's Heathland Heart project, a component of the national HLF funded Back from the Brink initiative.

Phil Saunders

Phil Saunders

BSc, MSc, PhD - Senior Ecologist & Fieldwork Coordinator
A research ecologist with ornithological and GIS expertise, and a particular interest in outreach and training provision.

Phil has spent most of his career working within the environment and education sector, having been employed as both a research ecologist and a lecturer in ecology and biodiversity at the University of East Anglia, and as a generalist ecologist for a range of environmental consultancies. He has particular expertise in ornithological survey design and provision, and has worked on a variety of international bird research projects.

Following his first degree in Applied Environmental Science, and a Masters in Conservation Science at Imperial College London, Phil completed his PhD at UEA, in association with the British Trust for Ornithology. His PhD research examined the effects of habitat and climate change upon Mediterranean populations of the European Roller, using geolocator and GPS tagging technology to identify habitat usage and migration routes. He was subsequently employed as a research ecologist in Uzbekistan on a project monitoring the movements and productivity of Asian Houbara Bustards fitted with satellite tags, prior to a brief period spent at the BTO.

Phil has well developed skills in ecological survey techniques (and ornithological surveys in particular), project management, report writing, and training provision. He is also highly technically competent in the use of GIS and a range of statistical software, including R and SPSS. At Footprint he leads on ornithological research and visitor surveys, and assists with GIS, data analysis and Habitats Regulations Assessments.


Zoe Caals

Zoe Caals

BSc, Recreation Ecologist
Visitor survey design, data analysis and reporting

Zoe is a maths graduate with over 15 years experience of working in local authorities and environmental organisations. She enjoys using GIS (QGIS, ArcMap and MapInfo) to analyse and present data and is also confident using Excel and Access.

Zoe previously worked at an environmental records centre where she supported local wildlife recorders by organising conferences and training days, agreed data exchanges and co-ordinated office volunteers. She has also worked as a countryside ranger and has experience of a range of ecological surveys.

Zoe has volunteered for several organisations including Butterfly Conservation, Trees for Life, National Trust, various Wildlife Trusts, Orca and the New Zealand Department of Conservation.

Outside work Zoe enjoys moth recording, photography, birdwatching and sea swimming.

Emma Bishop

Emma Bishop

BSc (Hons) - Data Entry Assistant
Recent graduate working on data management

Emma graduated in 2021 with a BSc (Hons) Environmental Science from the University of Manchester, covering a range of subjects including Ecology & Ecosystems, Human Impacts on the Biosphere, Living with Climate Change, Project Management & Professional Development, Scientific Problem Solving, and Organic Geochemistry. Her final year project investigated the impact of grassland species diversity on the macromolecular composition of soils.

While at Manchester University Emma was Student Ambassador for the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and worked for the charity SALVE International on the project 'Team Uganda 2019' in the 'climate action' team where she helped to design, plan and carry out a project in the community of Nakabango to reduce the problem of waste management.

At Footprint Ecology Emma leads on data entry, data checking, initial analyses and mapping. Emma has a keen interest in nature, grew up in Dorset, and is a member of the Dorset Wildlife Trust.

Contact us to discuss your project

We’re always ready to talk about your requirements, so please do get in touch today

Tel: +44 (0)1929 552444