The research

Bournemouth University students, led by Dr Anita Diaz and Dr Liz Franklin, have been working with the National Trust and RSPB in the Isle of Purbeck to monitor heathland habitats and develop more effective conservation methods for the area. Over the course of several summers, teams of students from BU have carried out ecological surveys of the Isle of Purbeck. They’ve carried out hours and hours of surveying work, gathering huge amounts of data about the flora and fauna in the local area.

For BU students, the project has been a fantastic way of developing their skills, putting their academic knowledge into practice and bolstering their environmental experience which will be a real advantage when applying for jobs. But perhaps the most significant benefit has been to the National Trust, RSPB and our local area as the extra manpower has enabled them to gather substantial amounts of data which will go on to inform conservation activities that will help to preserve the natural beauty of Purbeck for years to come.

Currently the largest citizen science project the National Trust has embarked on to date, student involvement has informed the analysis of 80 years of ecological change at the site, which is helping to shape the new conservation management plans for the future of the reserve. 

The impact

Michelle Brown, Ecology Officer for the National Trust’s Purbeck Estate and National Trust project lead

“BU students have been involved with the National Trust since 2010, when they began assisting with our annual deer census survey, but it wasn’t until the start of the Cyril Diver project in 2013 that our Student Environmental Research Teams took shape.

“Captain Cyril Diver was Studland’s first champion of conservation, so the aim of our project was to follow in his footsteps and ecologically survey the whole of the peninsula.

“As a former BU student, I’m passionate about the collaboration between BU and the National Trust. In such as a competitive industry, graduates who can show practical experience with conservation organisations increase their chance of standing out from the crowd.”

The academic

Dr Anita Diaz, Associate Professor in Ecology

Dr Diaz worked with Dr Liz Franklin to help set up the Isle of Purbeck Student Environmental Research Team project.

“The project was the result of a longstanding relationship with the National Trust and RSPB in Purbeck, who wanted to carry out a series of ecological monitoring surveys, to get a better understanding of how to shape their future conservation plans.

“It was a great opportunity to get BU students involved in hands-on environmental research.”

The student

Kate Rickard, BSc (Hons) Ecology & Wildlife Conservation student

Kate spent her summer as a team leader for the Purbeck project.

“I’m originally from Poole and love Purbeck, so I was really excited about getting to live there for the duration of the project.

“Being a team leader helped to improve my confidence with people I don’t know very well. I improved my practical skills in identifying pollinators and plants too.

“It was also really useful seeing how a scientific research project is planned, organised and carried out.”