Training Programme

Blackdown Hills Natural Futures offered traineeships to people hoping to move into the ecology and conservation sector  in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The training programme has now closed.

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 protected species skills central to the ecological consultancy industry, but also training in habitat and botanical survey skills used by government agencies and land managers. You can read about the wide range of training and experience our Trainee Ecologists have benefited from on their monthly news blogs. Watch the video below to see some of the highlights from the last two years training programme. 

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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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;
  • 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.

In addition, the training programme is kindly supported by four local ecological consultancies, Blackdown Environmental, First Ecology, Green Ecology and Seasons EcologyAll 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.

Two of the 2016 Trainee Ecologists have also already found jobs in the sector, both working with County Council Ecologists on protected species issues in relation to planning.


Survey Sites