Our Director Paul Gill established Environmentally Sustainable Systems in 1995 to provide sustainability, biodiversity and climate change research, consultancy and advice for businesses, central and local government, and ecological survey and assessment to conservation agencies, renewable energy and property developers. He innovated sustainability indicators for Scotland’s economy, wrote sustainable development guidance for the UK Government Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and advised councils on their sustainability and environmental policies; pioneered the use of biodiversity indicators, wind farm ecological surveys and evidence, and monitoring databases by conservation agencies; and helped develop 2.73GW offshore wind farms and 380MW of onshore wind farms and improve the evidence base for their ecological effects.
Having personally undertaken large scale surveys of birds, mammals and vegetation on over fifty onshore renewable development sites, as well as surveying seabirds and marine mammals from boats on eight offshore wind farm sites, Paul has helped the conservation agency Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) develop methods for bird assessment at wind farm sites. He also trialled and improved SNH’s draft guidance on mountain and moorland habitat impact assessment, classifying habitat condition, and quantifying the impacts of burning, deer browsing and the repeatability of the methodologies, while leading vegetation survey teams applying these methods to identify priority areas for deer-culling, and undertaking National Vegetation Classification surveys over large areas of the Cairngorm National Park in Scotland.
His wealth of experience in project management and direction, workshop facilitation, training, and communication, his expertise in sustainability assessment, climate change and transport, and in predicting, mitigating and monitoring the impacts of renewables and other construction developments on birds, mammals and other ecological receptors, form the basis of the work of Environmentally Sustainable Systems. He has led the development of company-wide quality, health, safety and environmental management systems which have been accredited to ISO, and to the highest levels (99.46-100%) of the UVDB Verify electricity & water utilities pre-qualification scheme. Paul has an MSc in Environmental Technology (specialising in Ecological Management) from Imperial College Centre for Environmental Technology, London, and a BA in Zoology from Oxford University. He has managed and directed projects and programmes for 30 years and recently consolidated this experience with an Association for Project Management (APM) Project Management Qualification (PMQ). Paul has been a full member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management for 11 years, and possesses a high level of competency in many areas of professional ecology and environmental work.
Prior to establishing Environmentally Sustainable Systems in 1995, Paul worked for the University of Stirling as part of a team contracted by government to measure the sustainability of Scotland’s economy, taught climate change to MSc students in Human Ecology at the University of Edinburgh and spent 4 seasons surveying birds across Scotland and northern England for government (NCC), research organisations (BTO & SOC) and NGOs (RSPB in southern Scotland and on Shetland immediately after the Braer oil disaster). Before this he worked for the UK Government conservation agencies creating and managing a biodiversity monitoring database for monitoring the effects of climate change on 13 UK Biosphere Reserves. He had previously worked on a successful African antelope reintroduction programme, on birds and deer for the Forestry Commission Wildlife & Conservation Research Branch, as environmental advisor to a US construction firm in Arizona, and with various social, environmental & bird non-governmental organisations (including the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Safe Energy/SCRAM, Anti-Apartheid, Namibia Support Committee, UK Green Party, RSPB, BTO, BANC and Scottish Environment Link).
Paul established Environmentally Sustainable Systems (ESS) in April 1995, and incorporated the company between 2003 and 2018, to investigate and address interactions between environment, economy and society, following the first Rio de Janeiro Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. Our operational and philosophical target lies at the centre of our Sustainability Venn diagram logo. The overlaps of the three circles of our logo, which we aim for in all our work, also represent the synergies, conflicts and tensions between the three Rio imperatives, which led to three agreements signed by most of the world’s nations, namely the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (that gave rise to the Paris agreement of 2015, which has set the 1.5° post-industrial global warming target that society is now aiming for), the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (which underpins all UK, Scottish and EU conservation legislation, and led to the Aichi Targets), and the UN Declaration on Environment & Development (followed by the 2002 Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development and the 2012 Rio+20 Sustainable Development Goals). He now focusses his efforts on resolving and harmonising the tensions, conflicts and synergies between the Paris Agreement, the Aichi Targets and the Sustainable Development Goals.