Training Programme

Applications for the 2016 training programmehave now closed.

If you've missed out this time round, please think about applying in spring 2017.


Blackdown Hills Natural Futures is offering traineeships to people hoping to move into the ecology and conservation sector. These 6 month unpaid positions (with travel and subsistence allowance) are offered between April and September each year.

The training scheme is timetabled to provide Trainee Ecologists with a wide variety of directly employable experience, the core emphasis of the programme being on building skills requested by employers in the sector. This includes training in skills central to the ecological consultancy industry, but also training in more high resolution botanical survey skills used by government agencies and land managers. You can read about the wide range of training and experience our 2015 Trainee Ecologists have benefited from on their monthly news blogs. Watch the video below to see some of the highlights from last years training programme. 

 To give a flavour of what applicants can expect to get from the training programme, the following will all be covered:  

  • Training in Phase 1 Habitat Survey methods used when assessing sites for development;
  • Thorough training in UK and EU wildlife legislation, including on-going examples of legislation issues in the field throughout the year;
  • Training in UK and EU Protected Species ecology and field survey including great crested newt surveys and trapping, dormouse handling, bat surveys and sound analysis, white-clawed crayfish surveys and reptile surveys.
  • Continuous training in botanical identification skills and habitat classification using the National Vegetation Classification (NVC), covering a wide range of Local/County Wildlife Sites on behalf of Local Environmental Records Centres.
  • Specialist training sessions focusing on bryophyte identification, freshwater invertebrate ecology and vegetative plant identifiaction, led by national experts.
  • Short placements with Local Environmental Records Centres, learning how to digitize site information in GIS programmes, process survey data, and use professional ecological recording software.
  • Opportunities to meet local employers in the sector, including staff from governmental agencies, third sector organisations and commercial businesses.

In addition, the training programme is kindly supported by four local ecological consultancies, Blackdown Environmental, First Ecology, Green Ecology and Seasons Ecology. Trainee Ecologists will have the opportunity to meet staff from these businesses, and all four are willing to offer paid work for Trainee Ecologists where opportunities arise.       

Tom Nitti, one of the 2015 Trainee Ecologists, was rectruited in a permanent position by a well-respected local ecological consultancy at the end of his time with the programme; 

Tom’s new employer commented “We had an extraordinarily high number of strong applicants and were attracted to Tom’s application due to the range of relevant training and experience he had acquired during his placement with BHNF. At interview Tom was able to demonstrate excellent botanical identification skills and experience of undertaking a variety of protected species surveys and this combined with his obvious enthusiasm and willingness to learn made him an ideal candidate for the position.”

Of the two other 2015 trainee ecologists - Laura Quinlan is now working in a Hertiage Lottery Funded project support role with the Freshwater Habitats Trust, and Emily Forbes has taken up a position on a fully funded Phd.


Survey Sites