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The creation of Europe’s largest environmental consultancy group


Press release

September 2022


Nature conservation: Biotope joins forces with Germany’s BioConsult SH and the UK’s HiDef Aerial Surveying to create a unique group in Europe

Biotope, European leader in environmental engineering and nature conservation services, has announced a merger with BioConsult SH, Germany’s leading ecological consultancy and HiDef Aerial Surveying, the UK’s leading provider of high-resolution digital aerial wildlife surveys. On September 9th, Biotope has acquired 27% stakes in BioConsult SH and HiDef. The three entities form a group with almost 800 employees and a combined turnover of 80 million euros, a first in Europe in the sector. The three companies will now greatly enhance their innovation efforts in the fields of ecological research and consulting to offer new services, matching the growing demand of science-based decision-making in environmental planning.


Nature conservation issues without borders

The three organisations share a common vision: to obtain the most reliable data on a large scale in order to establish the most robust environmental impact studies possible, so as to define and implement efficient nature conservation projects globally. This pooling of skills and technologies is a response to major environmental challenges in biodiversity that know no borders.


Long-term partners

After more than 7 years of fruitful collaboration, Biotope, BioConsult SH and HiDef Aerial Surveying are pooling their skills and technologies, in particular for the study of marine mammals and seabirds. The partnership is initially aimed at the evaluation of environmental issues and monitoring of the impacts of offshore wind farms.


“We are delighted to be building on a long-standing partnership with companies that share common values of rigour, innovation and passion. We work on complex issues for projects that cover a range on biological topics and we have measured in recent 

years how valuable it is to be able to rely on teams based in different geographic areas. This is particularly the case in the many offshore wind farm projects, where few seabirds, for example, restrict their movements within national borders. It is also a way of responding to the concerns of our clients – companies, local authorities, government departments, NGOs – whose projects require technical, legal and economic capacities adapted to their requirements. The objective is to remain independent so that ecology remains independent of any financial, industrial or energy issue. Our ambition is to continue the development of the different entities, by increasing the synergies on the geographical, technical, legal but also human levels”, says Frédéric Melki, President of Biotope.


Georg Nehls, Managing Director of BioConsult SH, says: “We are very pleased to be joining forces with Biotope to promote biodiversity. Such a group of companies specialising in ecology does not currently exist in Europe. This alliance will enable us to considerably increase our capacity to collect reliable, large-scale data, to analyse it and thus gain a better understanding of the phenomena of species movements, avoidance and disturbance and, ultimately, the adaptation (or otherwise) of their populations to current and/or future marine infrastructures. Together we will greatly expand our efforts to develop and implement new technologies, especially in the field of Artificial Intelligence for ecological data acquisition.”


Many synergies

Already present in all four corners of the world through its 30 locations in France and internationally, Biotope is strengthening its positions in Europe through this merger with BioConsult SH, an ecological research and consulting company based in Husum, Germany. Since 2016, BioConsult SH has been joined by the teams of HiDef Aerial Surveying, a United Kingdom based company, to benefit from their expertise in the field of aerial surveys of marine mammals and birds, as well as marine ecological research. This will facilitate Biotope’s geographical development in English-speaking countries (notably the United States and Australia), and BioConsult and HiDef Aerial Surveying will be able to benefit from projects in Biotope’s international subsidiaries.


Supporting the development of marine renewable energy

HiDef Aerial Surveying has developed cutting-edge technologies that consist of conducting aerial surveys over very large areas, in the open sea, and collecting high quality images that enable precise and well-documented inventories of marine megafauna. Since its acquisition by BioConsult SH, HiDef Aerial Surveying has experienced strong growth in Northwest Europe. The main activity is to study the presence and activities of birds and marine mammals at sea through digital aerial monitoring. This type of information is then used to draw up initial states of the environment, draft impact assessments and then characterise the reactions to the presence of developments at sea. These data are also used to better understand the populations of species frequenting marine protected areas, including seabirds such as the gannet and auks, and marine mammals such as the harbour porpoise.

 Marine renewable energy: key figures

– 6,500 jobs in the French industry

– Target of 40 GW installed in 2050 for offshore wind power in France

– 2.6 billion invested in 2021 for offshore wind in France

– 21.1 GW of offshore wind capacity commissioned in 2021 worldwide (i.e. three times more than the previous year, bringing the cumulative capacity of offshore wind turbines worldwide to 57 GW by the end of 2021)

Already positioned in the marine renewable energy sector for several years, with the creation of a dedicated department in 2020, Biotope is continuing its development in the sector. Florian Lecorps, director of this department, has joined the HiDef Aerial Surveying board in 2022 to optimise synergies between the structures. This grouping of the three companies will also make it easier to position on certain national or European calls for tender, reserved for consortiums made up of several companies from multiple countries, requiring a certain investment capacity.


About Biotope

Founded in 1993 by nature lovers committed to the preservation of biodiversity, the company has established itself for 30 years as the European leader in environmental engineering. With 350 employees (botanists, wildlife experts and environmentalists) and 16 offices in mainland France, four in overseas France, three French subsidiaries and seven international subsidiaries, the Biotope consultancy assists public and private players in the environmental approach to development projects, from French Guiana to China and the Mediterranean. The company invests 7% of its turnover in R&D and its dedicated department designs and develops original solutions to understand and ultimately better protect nature in a wide variety of fields (acoustics, electronics, biostatistics, genetics, ecology).

Biotope is also a communications agency and a publishing house – Biotope Éditions – a leading publisher of nature books (identification guides, distribution atlases, beautiful books, nature walking guides, etc.). The leitmotiv of all its activities is to share knowledge of nature with as many people as possible in order to better protect it.


Biotope Press Contact

Dakota Communication

01 55 32 10 40 –

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