Durham Wildlife Trust

Durham Wildlife Trust

Alison Laing said: “My role at Durham Wildlife Trust is supported by a grant from The Prince’s Countryside Fund. It is four days a week and one weekend day per month for one year, and I started in October 2019. My main job is to lead volunteer tasks, where we will go out to a nature reserve and do a habitat management task. The tasks we do vary wildly and can include planting wildflower meadows, clearing scrub, hedge laying, fencing, general maintenance, chopping logs and making charcoal.  I also spend time in the office where I help prepare habitat management plans, write risk assessments and plan volunteer tasks.

"One of the most beneficial parts of the job is that I get lots of training. So far, I have gained qualifications in chainsaw, brushcutter, 4x4 offroad driving, pesticides, first aid and I have my ATV (all terrain vehicle) training booked in. I will also get training in plant identification, ecology surveys and education.

"Having completed a bachelor's degree in Zoology and a Master’s in Ecological Consultancy, I have academic experience in environmental management, but this job with the Wildlife Trusts has given me the practical experience to back this up. It has also given me the opportunity to manage large groups of people, for example I often have up to 15 volunteers out with me on task who I have to look after and ensure their safety. It also provided me with the opportunity to appear on BBC Radio 1 and BBC News to discuss why you should consider a vote for the countryside and the environment.

"I also work at a land agency to get some extra income and help on the farm at home, but it is fantastic to have this opportunity from the Durham Wildlife Trust as there are not many other opportunities like this locally to get hands on environmental management experience for 12 months, it is unique in that.  By working locally, I am also putting money back into the local economy as especially living on a farm, we have always tried to shop locally. Any trees we fell whilst out with the volunteers on a task we make into logs or charcoal which we sell at our visitor centres and the money raised goes towards upkeep of the reserves. I would never have been able to afford the training that the role gives me, and I am so grateful for the grant from The Prince’s Countryside Fund that has allowed me take up this role at Durham Wildlife Trust.”