News from Therfield Heath Conservation – Award Winning Project

News from Therfield Heath Conservation – Award Winning Project

Esme Fowler, a Nuffield Scholar student, has won the Gold Crest award for her project “Assessing the biodiversity of Therfield Heath”.

This collaboration between Anglia Ruskin University, Ranger and Conservation Manager, Cat Wright, and Nuffield Research Student, Esme Fowler, aimed to complete a floristic survey and analysis to prove that scrub encroachment is decreasing biodiversity and to use a drone to capture aerial images to estimate a value for scrub encroachment.

In a world where many of the rarer environmental habitats are in decline it is vital that areas rich in biodiversity – such as the calcareous grassland habitat of Therfield Heath – is enhanced and conserved.

However, with little data collected previously on Therfield Heath, site-specific evidence to justify management decisions has been in short supply. To effectively move towards management goals, a baseline needs to be determined, and this collaboration provided a perfect opportunity.

The analysis of surveys revealed that restoring grassland in areas taken over by scrub would improve biodiversity on Therfield Heath.

Esme received the Gold Crest award for her report for excellence with the accessors stating: “Through your report you have showed a clear understanding of the science behind your project: it has been well researched, the objective and selected methodology are clear, and you offer a good critical discussion and interpretation; your conclusions are fair, and cleverly show us how management of land must be evidence-based to sound decision making. Without doubt you have excelled on your writing report, very informative and easy to understand; well done!”

Esme says: “This project has been a fantastic opportunity for me to learn more about Calcareous Grassland Habitats and to be able to develop my scientific research and analysis skills culminating in a report produced that can be of value and used to help promote positive change.”