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More needs to be done to encourage the next generation of ecologists, Harper Adams academic believes

Posted 22 September

“A recent Local Government Association poll highlighted the lack of ecologists for biodiversity and planning work - and my work as an external examiner has also shown the shortage of specialist ecologist and survey workers across the UK. This has had a major impact for local authorities who need trained ecologists for planning and development work and implementing the new Government policies on increasing biodiversity.”

Dr Nicky Hunter outdoors in front of foliage

More needs to be done to encourage the development of trained ecologists for biodiversity and planning work, a Harper Adams academic believes.

Dr Nicky Hunter, who is set to retire later this month as a Senior Lecturer in Ecology and Environmental Science at Harper Adams University, has said that her work as an external examiner at institutions across the UK – as well as a recent local government survey – demonstrate the need for trained ecologists who can undertake biodiversity and planning work.

She also believes that the success of Harper Adams alumni demonstrates the opportunities available to successful graduates in relevant topics – with some of her former students taking up roles both in the UK and internationally.

Dr Hunter said: “My background is in ecology, wildlife and conservation and this has been my passion to enthuse and encourage students interested in this area of the environment.

“I have been actively involved with my membership of a professional body The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) and was involved for many years on the Institute’s education committee, developing accreditation for Universities across the UK.

“Harper Adams was one of the first four Higher Education Institutions to gain accreditation, which really helps with employment in our sector.

“A recent Local Government Association poll highlighted the lack of ecologists for biodiversity and planning work - and my work as an external examiner has also shown the shortage of specialist ecologist and survey workers across the UK. This has had a major impact for local authorities who need trained ecologists for planning and development work and implementing the new Government policies on increasing biodiversity.”

The potential of careers in ecology and survey work is made clear to Harper Adams students across its Environment, Sustainability and Wildlife courses during their course, as they are given the chance to work alongside these industry specialists as they study – with many then going on to secure similar roles upon graduation.

Dr Hunter added: “I have always been very applied with my teaching and working with the local mammal and bat groups, the Wildlife Trusts and Natural England has given me invaluable experience for my teaching and contacts for my students.”

Sam King completed a BSc (Hons) In Countryside and Environmental Management and is now a Consultant Ecologist at WSP. He said: “Nicky’s teaching style allowed me to learn a subject which is complex in nature and for someone without an academic background, such as myself, empowered me and many other students to learn new skills and take on the knowledge needed to confidently start a career as an Ecologist.

“The driving force in my decision to choose Harper Adams is the first place was the CIEEM accreditation”.

“Nicky also arranged for industry professionals to visit as guest lecturers, which was a key opportunity allowing me to make a valuable industry contacts and to subsequently find employment.”

Read more of Dr Hunter’s thoughts upon her retirement on our blog.

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