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UK - Nature Wilderness Field Course

One week rewilding field course with data analysis at Knepp Estate, UK

The UK field ecology and data analysis course will be based at the Knepp Estate in the Low Weald of Sussex, which is Britain’s premier 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.  with fallow and red deer, wild horses, long-horn cattle to mimic the effects of the extinct auroch and pig to mimic wild boar controlling the vegetation 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.

During the course students will be camping in individual tents to ensure that the group are socially distanced.


  • Sunday 30 May - Saturday 5 June 2021
  • Sunday 27 June - Saturday 3 July 2021
  • Sunday 18 July - Sunday 24 July 2021

Reserve your place


The course consists of three main parts:

  • 1. Learning ecology survey techniques

    – half of the time will be spent in the field working with experienced field naturalists learning the following techniques:

    • Quadrat surveys for analysing vegetation community structure
    • Sweep net, pitfall, flight intercept and light traps for invertebrates
    • Transect searches, pitfall trap lines and cover board surveys for reptile, amphibian and small mammal surveys
    • Sound and spotlight surveys for amphibians
    • Point count, transect surveys and mist netting for birds
    • Distance and patch occupancy sampling for mammals
    • Sound analysis for bats


  • 2. Learning how to analyse in R and write up a large data set as a scientific paper for publication

    – the other half of the time will be spent working on their laptops with online tuition from a group of specialist scientists.

    Students will work together in small groups (2 -3 students) on one of the following data sets: reef fish communities, coral reef structure, cloud forest bird communities, spider monkey behaviour or large mammal distribution in a South African reserve. Over the week the objective will be for the group to write up a paper answering a research question they have devised based on the data sets.

    Each group will present their final paper by the end of the course.

  • 3. Learning about how to develop a career in conservation biology or wildlife film making


    In the evenings there will be presentations from different academics, professional field ecologists or wildlife film makers explaining how they developed their careers.


    Working with Knepp Castle Estate:


Day to Day Tasks

Each day there will be tasks the students need to complete:


    Learning how the selected data set were gathered, developing a research question that can be asked and writing an introduction to the paper


    Learning how to code in R (the open source data analysis package) and graphing some of the data needed to analyse the research question


    Learning how to use basis statistical tests in R to analyse the data


    Learning how to write up the discussion, conclusions and bibliography of the proposed paper

Additional Information

    • Students over 16 years of age may be able to use the course for their Gold Duke of Edinburgh residential requirements.
    • Attend lectures/workshops on biodiversity and conservation
    • Explore unique flora and fauna
    • Learn many different survey methods for invetebrates, herpetofauna, mammals, birds and bats
    • Learning how to analyse in R and write up a large data set as a scientific paper for publication
    • Learning about how to develop a career in conservation biology or wildlife film making
  • The course attendees will meet at 5pm on the Sunday and there will be an introduction to the site including bathroom and workplace facilities with emphasis on how to maintain social distancing.  The students will be busy throughout the day and by the Friday night should have participated in surveys using the identified techniques and written up a science paper in a small group.  The course finishes on the Saturday morning at 9am.

  • During the course the students will be camping in individual tents to ensure social distancing.  The costs of the course including all food, accommodation, tuition and access to the Knepp Estate is £700.

    For group bookings please contact info@opwall.com and for individual student bookings please use the ‘reserve your place’ button below. There are maximum numbers on each work experience in order to ensure the students have the level of academic and field support needed. Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

    • School groups under 16 years of age must be accompanied by a teacher or parent (this is optional for students over 16 years old) and there is a free place provided on the course (including accommodation and food) for the chaperone for each group of 8 students. Students over 16 years of age can travel independently.

Reserve your place

Wallace House, Old Bolingbroke, Spilsby, Lincolnshire PE23 4EX, UK
| +44 (0) 1790 763194 | info@opwall.com