Friday, 15 August 2014

FOR FACTORS/HEAD KEEPERS: NEW FIELD COURSE FOR CONSERVATION PROFESSIONALS

Please find below details of a course ideally suited for estate factors and head keepers. The course, facilitated by Dr James Fenton, in association with the Field Studies Council, covers many topics which are essential knowledge for all estates marrying sport with best practice in conservation.
If you are interested in booking onto the course, email the SGA office for a booking form or contact Dr James Fenton directly at: Dr James Fenton, Polldoran, Clachan Seil, Oban PA34 4TJ
info@james-hc-fenton.eu
Telephone bookings can also be taken: 01852 300545 

NEW FIELD COURSE FOR CONSERVATION PROFESSIONALS


22-26 SEPTEMBER 2014 IN WESTER ROSS Non-residential
AIM OF THE COURSE:
To ensure that upland conservation management is rooted in sound ecological principles
TOPICS COVERED:
Invasive plants
Grazing impact
Native woodlands old & new Peatlands & carbon storage Setting objectives

TARGET AUDIENCE:
  • –  Nature conservation practitioners: staff of NGOs and agencies involved in practical conservation work and/or policy advice
  • –  Postgraduate students involved in ecological research
  • –  Those involved in governance of NGOs & agencies (trustees, council & committee members)
  • –  Those seeking to advance their Corporate Professional Development
 
Run in association with the Field Studies Council

The course provides an opportunity for practitioners to stand-back from their daily work, to look afresh at the ecology of upland ecosystems, and to discuss topical issues with their peers both informally on-site and in more structured indoor sessions in the evenings.
FIELD COURSE:
CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT IN THE UPLANDS: PRINCIPLES INTO PRACTICE
LOCATION:
Wester Ross (Torridon to Loch Ewe)
Note that next year (2015 onwards) the course will be run as a residential course at Kindrogan Field Centre under the auspices of the Field Studies Council
DATES
Monday-Friday 22-26 September 2014. The course will be subject to demand.
TOPICS COVERED:
Invasive plants
Grazing impact
Native woodlands old & new Peatlands & carbon storage Setting objectives

Emphasis will be on habitats and vegetation rather than species.
The following habitats will be studied: dry heath, wet heath, peat bog, upland grassland, bracken, native birch wood, ancient Caledonian pine forest, new broadleaved plantations, new & old native pinewood plantations.
APPROACH:
‘Learning by doing’: participants will undertake fieldwork on key topics and thereafter draw their own conclusions on the dynamics of the ecosystems they are studying.
The course is not designed to teach standard protocols such as NVC and Site Condition Monitoring and neither will it focus on designated sites, although these topics will be discussed. Instead it will focus on basic ecology with the aim of honing observation skills.
Fieldwork sites will be chosen to best illustrate the underlying ecological principles and discussion will be based on fieldwork results obtained. Informal discussion following Chatham House rules will be a key aspect of the course
The course is focussed on ecology. There will not be time to cover other essential aspects of conservation management, such as the political context, community involvement, communicating with landowners/managers, education, etc. although they are likely to be touched on in discussion.
   
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TARGET AUDIENCE:
The course will take place in an area where natural/semi-natural habitats dominate the landscape, with improved agricultural land or urban development rare. Hence the course is targeted at those professionally working in such areas; it will be less suited to those involved in lowland areas where the reverse is true.
Participants will be expected to have had some experience of nature conservation theory and practice.
LOGISTICS:
The course is centred at Gairloch in Wester Ross. See programme below for daily activities.
Note that food and accommodation is not provided on this course: participants will have to make their own arrangements. Packed lunches will be required Tuesday-Friday.
The course will be fieldwork-based in a variable climate: participants will be responsible for providing their own weatherproof clothing.
* Participants will need to be physically fit as walking over rough ground will be included.
A minibus will be provided for travel to and from fieldwork sites. A meeting room will be provided for evening sessions.
COST:
£240 per participant, which includes daily travel to/from fieldwork sites, fieldwork material, cost of room hire for evening sessions, and tutor costs.
* Course numbers will be restricted to eight. ______________________________________________________
COURSE FACILITATOR
The facilitator for this course is Dr James Fenton. The course is run in conjunction with the Field Studies Council.
James has a degree in botany and PhD in peat growth. He previously designed and tutored ecology field course for five years in the Lake District while working for the Brathay Hall Trust.
In 1991 he was employed by the National Trust for Scotland as their first Ecologist and remained with them for 14 years. Subsequently he worked on landscape policy for Scottish Natural Heritage for five years, coordinating the work to identify the special qualities of all of Scotland’s National Scenic Areas and both National Parks. Most recently he worked for two years in the Falkland Islands as CEO of the NGO Falklands Conservation.
In recent years he has also led fieldwork days in Wester Ross for postgraduate students from ETH Zurich university and been a STEM ambassador.
 
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PROGRAMME: 22-26 September 2014
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Objectives
Approach
MONDAY
INVASIVE PLANTS
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Poolewe & surrounds
2pm
Fieldwork
1. To identify the key invasive plants in the locality
2. To assess their potential for spread
Field observations of introduced species Sources of spread
Estimated rate of spread
Eve
Indoor
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3. To produce a control strategy
Indoor exercise:
Prioritise species to control
Produce a control strategy for the locality
TUESDAY
GRAZING IMPACT
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Gairloch & surrounds
all day
Fieldwork
1. To assess the grazing levels across the locality
2. To identify the impact of grazing
Visit to grassland, heathland & woodland sites with different grazing levels
Assessment of grazing impact, including number of plants present & impact on tree regeneration
eve Indoor
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3. How to set grazing levels?
Discussion
WEDNESDAY
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NATIVE WOODLANDS
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Beinn Eighe/Torridon
am
Fieldwork
a. To map the distribution of native woodland in the locality, and account for its distribution
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Native woodland mapped on drive to Torridon, with tree species present noted
Visit to native woodland sites
Discussion of why woodland is where it is
pm
Fieldwork
b. To examine native woodland expansion schemes in the area and assess their appropriateness
Visit to various native woodland schemes, from Victorian times to the present day
Techniques: direct planting, mounding, planting of seed sources, natural regeneration
Analysis of site characteristics
Analysis of approaches taken over the years at Beinn Eighe NNR (ancient pine forest)
eve Indoor
c. To produce a strategy for native woodland in the locality
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What native woodland management is needed in the future?
THURSDAY
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PEATLANDS & CARBON STORAGE
Inverasdale peninsula
am
Fieldwork
a. To analyse the long-term dynamics of peatlands
Visit to different kinds of peatland: shallow peat, deep peat, peat with pools, eroded peat
Causes of erosion
Discussion of long-term peat dynamics
pm
Fieldwork
b. To estimate the amount of carbon stored in different ecosystems in the locality
Field visit to grassland, birch woodland, heathland, bracken and peat bogs
Measurements of soil depth & structure, standing crop estimated
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eve Indoor
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Indoor session: analysis of results
Is the area currently a carbon sink, source of store?
Will tree planting increase the amount of carbon stored?
What is the likely impact of fire?
FRIDAY
SETTING OBJECTIVES
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am Indoor
1. What should be nature conservation aims & objectives for this area?
Using experience gained on previous days, participants produce an outline nature conservation strategy for the locality
The strategy could include:
What are the special qualities of the area?
Which ecosystems (if any) should be given a priority?
What conservation approach/es is/are appropriate where?
What would ‘rewilding’ mean in this area?
What ecological networks are present/needed? What will need to be monitored?
2pm
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Depart
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Departure time could be later by agreement with participants
Note: Although each day will be devoted to a particular topic, in practice there is likely to be discussion of most topics on most days, particularly when a relevant site is visited.