1 week: 1 week terrestrial only – 7 July – 13 July 2024
1 week: 1 week terrestrial only – 14 July – 20 July 2024
1 week: 1 week terrestrial only – 21 July – 27 July 2024
1 week: 1 week terrestrial only – 28 July – 3 August 2024
1 week: 1 week terrestrial only – 4 August – 10 August 2024
1 week: 1 week terrestrial only – 11 August – 17 August 2024
Click Here for Expedition Dates
This project is based at the Knepp Estate in the Low Weald of Sussex, which is Britain’s premier and most famous rewilding site. The 3500 acre estate is being returned to a pre-human habitat by almost abandoning human intervention in the management of the landscape and allowing fields to revert to natural vegetation. Fallow and red deer, wild horses, long-horn cattle to mimic the effects of the extinct auroch and pig to mimic wild boar control the vegetation on this unique estate to produce a patchwork of different habitats. Beavers are being introduced to help restore the wet grassland and wetland habitats.
This approach was started in 2002 and has turned out to be visionary with many other farmers now looking to similarly restore areas of the country using this approach. The effect on wildlife has been breathtaking including massive increases in floristic diversity, insect abundance, many more butterflies including special species such as Purple Emperor, growth in the abundance of threatened bird species such as nightingales, and turtle doves and 13 of the 17 bat species returning to the land.
This course is aimed at those participating positioning themselves to be able to benefit from the anticipated explosive growth in career opportunities in wildlife management and climate change careers in the UK (see Opportunities in the UK jobs market for ecology and climate change careers)
Practicals are aimed at developing relevant skills for wildlife careers. These include pollination surveys that can be used in land management. Others such as UKHab mapping and calculation of the biodiversity value of a site using the DEFRA biodiversity metric will open up opportunities for planning authorities and developers. Volunteers will learn to identify different bird and plant species, as well as getting involved in a bird ringing demo, point count and breeding bird transect. The introduction of large mammals at Knepp is the key to its success as a wildling project, and these species are surveyed through a DISTANCE transect and camera trapping, while invertebrates are surveyed through pan traps, sweep netting and Malaise traps. Volunteers also learn how to pin invertebrates, and the samples collected go to the Natural History Museum for analysis. Reptiles including slow worms and grass snakes are surveyed using cover traps (also known as artificial refugia), and volunteers also get to learn about the voluntary carbon market while quantifying carbon sequestration in fields, hedgerows and trees. All of these survey skills will help to improve employability in the field of UK conservation.
Volunteers will also get to go on a rewilding safari with one of the Knepp ecologists, which is an amazing chance to put things into perspective and really see how diverse the wildlife is at Knepp. There will be talks on the theory behind rewilding and in the evenings there will be presentations from professional ecologists or climate change specialists in how they developed their careers.
The aim of the course is to give the participants experience in field survey techniques that are likely to be encountered if undertaking a field ecology or climate change career. Thus practicals involve completing pollinator surveys and how to identify bee and hoverfly species, how to map areas using UKHab and quantify the biodiversity score of an area using the DEFRA biodiversity metric, how to quantify carbon storage in a range of habitats and how the voluntary carbon market works.
In addition, the course includes evening presentation from professional ecologists or climate change specialists in how they developed their careers.
The British summertime is somewhat hard to predict, usually average daytime temperatures from June to August are between 18°C and 21°. Rainfall can be variable on site from very dry weeks to wetter weeks. It is important to check up to date weather forecasts before departure.
Fitness Level Required
Medium – there can be long walks and terrain varies depending on research location with some being flat and others more challenging.
Facilities in the camp site are basic (sleeping in tents), with a mixture of compost and temporary toilets. There are some limited opportunities to buy snacks. Phone signal can be good in certain areas of the site.