Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Getting into ecology and conservation

Ask any ecologist or conservationist how they got into this line of work, and almost all will tell you about how they got stuck in with volunteering, and what awesome days they were!


Me in 2012, volunteering on a Water Vole survey with Row Baker at Arundel

Volunteering for the Sussex Wildlife Trust opened up to me a new world of local wildlife, and the passionate people who are trying to conserve it. There are many wildlife organisations out there wanting to engage with volunteers and recruit new members, and now social media makes it even easier to connect with these groups... a healthier use of Facebook and Twitter!

Myself and Laurie Jackson (who I also met through volunteering) have come up with a list of wildlife groups and recording schemes which people can get involved with, whether you're a student of biological sciences, a recent graduate, or just someone who is looking to get outdoors more and discover an endlessly rewarding new hobby...

Firstly, consider starting to keep a species list by signing up to iRecord: http://www.brc.ac.uk/irecord/

Events/ short courses in wildlife identification, ecology and field skills:


Sussex Wildlife Trust https://www.sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/whats-on/category/adult-learning
Surrey Wildlife Trust http://www.surreywildlifetrust.org/whats-on?categoryid=7&categoryid=7
Knepp Wildlands Safaris https://www.kneppsafaris.co.uk/Safaris
Field Studies Council (FSC) http://www.field-studies-council.org/individuals-and-families.aspx



For families and kids:


Sussex Wildlife Trust family events https://sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/whats-on/category/family-events
Surrey Wildlife Trust family events http://www.surreywildlifetrust.org/whats-on?categoryid=9
Amateur Entomologists' Society Bug Club  http://www.amentsoc.org/bug-club/
Field Studies Council family activities http://www.field-studies-council.org/individuals-and-families/family.aspx


Specialist courses and training ecological consultants:


Bat Conservation Trust http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/professional.html
Mammal Society http://www.mammal.org.uk/training
Amphibians and Reptiles Group http://www.arguk.org/events
British Trust for Ornithology http://www.bto.org/news-events/training
Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) : http://www.cieem.net/events/category/56/cieem-workshopstraining
Acorn Ecology http://www.acornecology.co.uk/ecology-courses
Field Studies Council (FSC) environmental professionals http://www.field-studies-council.org/professional/courses-for-environmental-professionals.aspx
British Entomology & Natural History Society http://www.benhs.org.uk/about/meetings/
Freshwater Biological Association https://www.fba.org.uk/courses

The best advice after going on any training course or event? Get involved with wildlife surveys or field meetings straight away, either through the organisation you've just trained with, or a wildlife group local to you. Carry on with the learning and keep those newly acquired field skills honed; we all started out somewhere! 

National recording schemes & surveys:



There are many more than I have listed here, so you could also take a look at the Biological Records Centre website: http://www.brc.ac.uk/recording-schemes

Most these groups also have facebook pages with very active online communities, so there are always people to turn to for advice.

And for those of you more local to the Gatwick area, check out these active groups...


Wildlife groups and recording in Sussex:


Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre http://sxbrc.org.uk/
Sussex Mammal Group http://www.sussexmammalgroup.org.uk
Sussex Amphibian and Reptile Group http://www.sussexarg.org.uk
Sussex Bat Group http://www.sussexbatgroup.org.uk/
Sussex Ornithological Society http://www.sos.org.uk/
Sussex Botanical Recording Society http://sussexflora.org.uk/
Sussex Moth Group http://www.sussexmothgroup.org.uk/
Butterfly Conservation – Sussex Branch http://www.sussex-butterflies.org.uk/
British Dragonfly Society - Sussex Group http://www.webjam.com/bdssx
Sussex Sea Search https://sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/what-we-do/living-seas/sussex-seasearch
Forest Row Natural History Group https://naturesbook.wordpress.com/events/

Sussex & Surrey:


West Weald Fungus Recording Group  http://www.westwealdfungi.co.uk/

Surrey:


Surrey Biodiversity Information Centre http://www.surreybic.org.uk/
Surrey Mammal group (Facebook page) https://www.facebook.com/groups/surreymammals/?fref=ts
Surrey Dormouse Group http://www.surreydormousegroup.org.uk/
Surrey Amphibians and Reptile Group http://www.surrey-arg.org.uk/
Surrey Bat Group http://www.surreybats.org.uk/
Surrey Birding Club http://www.surreybirdclub.org.uk/
Surrey Botanical Society http://www.surreyflora.org.uk/
Surrey Butterfly Conservation - Surrey & SW London branch http://butterfly-conservation.org/286/surrey--sw-london-branch.html
RiverSearch & RiverFly surveys http://www.surreywildlifetrust.org/what-we-do/living-landscapes/conservation-projects/riversearch


So there you go! My apologies as if I missed any off - please comment below and I can add to the lists.