I’m Briony and I’ve recently joined North Wales Wildlife Trust as a Conservation Intern. I’m also a final year student of Ecology and Conservation Biology at the University of Leeds. When COVID-19 kicked in and all of my university work was moved online, I moved back home to Chester and started looking into how I could get some practical experience to replace the field trips and lab sessions I was missing out on. The Wildlife Trust has always been on my radar as somewhere I could go to volunteer, so when North Wales Wildlife Trust advertised that they wanted interns I had to apply!
Briony begins her Conservation Internship journey
As a Conservation Intern I work alongside other staff members and volunteers at the reserves. So far I’ve visited Eithinog, Maes Hiraddug, Coed Cilygroeslwyd, and Big Pool Wood. At the moment I’m essentially shadowing the other members of staff, learning about how each of the reserves are managed and what makes each of them so special. Every staff member is so passionate about the work that they do here and it’s so inspiring to me as someone who is only just starting out. It’s also nice to see the same volunteers come to different sites, and to learn about how they first got involved with the Trust. With such a friendly community at North Wales Wildlife Trust, I already feel like a part of the team after only a few weeks of being here.
A lot of my time so far has been spent clearing areas and cutting back dominant plant species. This can seem controversial to members of the public as it looks like we’re getting rid of all the wildlife, when actually we’re making way for things like wildflowers to thrive in the spring. Denbighshire’s county flower limestone woundwort (Stachys alpina) is found at our site Coed Cilygroeslwyd, and is protected under UK law as a rare species. It’s our job to make sure that it keeps on growing here by managing the habitat, making sure it is suitable for the plants to develop and flower. At Big Pool Wood we had to clear a ditch that was full of fallen leaves and twigs to improve drainage at the reserve and the nearby caravan site. It might not sound very fun to some people but it’s rewarding knowing that my actions are having a direct impact on the wildlife at this reserve. Lots of other activities were happening at Big Pool Wood at the same time, with the volunteers I’d already worked with as well as younger volunteers from the Our Wild Coast project. Having multiple generations working alongside each other is lovely as we all get to share stories and learn about the local environment from lots of different perspectives.
Whether it’s doing the more ‘glamorous’ tasks, or quite literally getting stuck in the bottom of a muddy ditch, I’m enjoying being able to contribute to such a fantastic community of staff members and volunteers whilst learning how to be a conservationist in the field. I’m excited for what the next few months working for North Wales Wildlife Trust have in store for me, and I can’t wait to get stuck in!