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Our World View: Wildlife Conservation with Natural Resource Management

Posted 23 January 2013

Students undertaking small mammal surveys on the rural Harper site

A monthly comment from a member of staff at Harper Adams University

Nicky Hunter, Senior Lecturer for Countryside, Environment and Wildlife Courses

"Harper Adams University, has for many years, offered very popular programmes producing employable graduates in the Countryside and Environment sectors and this year has introduced an exciting new degree course in Wildlife Conservation with Natural Resource Management.

This course combines appropriate modules used for the countryside and environment courses, like Ecology, Natural Environment and Environmental Quality and Protection with established modules from the animal suite of courses such as Adaptive Biology and Behavioural Methodology. The introduction of new modules including Species ID, Applied Wildlife Assessment and Behavioural Ecology and Wildlife Populations, has allowed us to develop and offer an exciting and interesting new course area. 

Being a rural site, students get the opportunity to undertake surveys and monitoring of species and habitats just by stepping out of the lecture room and also visit some interesting nature reserves and specialist wildlife areas locally.

Like all of the courses at Harper Adams University, students undertake a placement year and we have already had some success with students on placement at Natural England, Wildlife Trusts and the Environment Agency, who have later gone on to work in the wildlife and conservation sectors.

Many of the staff like me have a real passion for wildlife, conservation and habitat management. We encourage all students to get involved with local conservation and wildlife groups, which will give students additional practical knowledge and understanding. Staff interest areas include entomology, herpetology, ornithology, mammals and specialist habitat assessment and management.

My particular wildlife interest area is animal ecology and protected species work. Simon Irvin, the Course Manager, and I both have EPS licenses for Great Crested Newts and you will have the opportunity to survey our newts on site and look at issues such as habitat enrichment and mitigation for many species. I  am involved with the Shropshire Bat Group, the Shropshire Mammal Group and also do voluntary work with Natural England on a  local site. I find this really useful for updating my practical skills and knowledge, making contacts with people who work in our industry and making my teaching more applied.

Some of our teaching and research staff are also actively involved with professional bodies like the Institute of Ecology and Environment Management, British Ecological Society, Wildlife Trusts, DEFRA, Natural England and the Environment Agency.

We also invite specialists to come and talk to students, which very much brings current professional expertise to our undergraduates. Speakers from the Environment Agency, local Biodiversity Officers, Reserve Managers, RSPB staff and Environmental Consultants have been well received by our students.

If like us, you are passionate about wildlife and conservation and want to find out more, please come and visit us on one of our open days and talk to staff about your areas of interest. We look forward to seeing you. 

I like this quote from Sir David Attenborough "It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of natural beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living." "

Contact Nicky nhunter@harper-adams.ac.uk or Course Manager, Simon Irvin, sirvin@harper-adams.ac.uk for more information.

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