Saturday, February 24, 2024

Nurturing the next generation of wildlife conservationists

STUDENTS from the University of Essex got up close and personal with waterfowl at Abberton Reservoir thanks to the conversation team at Essex & Suffolk Water.  

The field trip was part of the curriculum for the class of 30 second-year students, as they learnt more about protected nature site designation and management.  

The ecologists and biologists experienced a range of different activities, including: learning about waterfowl species and their behaviours and migration, to practicing distance sampling of waterfowl flocks to determine counts, and wild bird-ringing and demographic data collection.  

The University’s Professor Tom Cameron, who leads the practical, said: “The field trip allows them to experience the formal Wetland Bird Surveys, and the challenges, that are collected by volunteers and are so important to our decision making in conservation.  

“For some of our students this is the first time they have been up close and personal with a wild animal, it can be quite an emotional experience.” 

Students use demographic and population level data, and ringing surveys to build population models back in class. Allowing them to see the full cycle of how field data collection can lead to predictions of animal population response to policy and regulation, such as the creation of more habitat or predator fencing. 

Charlotte Bradley, Conservation Advisor for Essex & Suffolk Water, was on hand to explain more about her job role and career background while the group enjoyed Essex Wildlife Trust’s nature reserve, the water company’s partner at the reservoir. 

She said: “Not many people realise the amount of investment Essex & Suffolk Water puts into maintaining and enhancing nature and wildlife habitats. It’s good to be able to share that knowledge with the students and open their eyes to other potential career opportunities in conservation science.” 

You can read more about the work Essex & Suffolk Water are doing with environments and habitats in their Environmental Strategy for Northumbrian Water Group, here: www.nwg.co.uk/responsibility/environment  

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