My Studland Bay Summer Conservation Placement, by Helen

Having already volunteered on the Dynamic Dunescapes project at Studland, this student placement was the perfect opportunity for Helen to bolster her practical skills.

I’ve always loved the outdoors and spending time in nature, appreciating the sounds and sights of what is going on around me.  When I had the opportunity to take part in a placement as part of my MSc Biodiversity Conservation course at Bournemouth University, I knew I wanted to take part in a project that would make a difference in conserving and enhancing our natural capital in the UK.  Having already volunteered on the Dynamic Dunescapes project at Studland since September 2020, it was the perfect opportunity to expand on what I had learnt in these weekly meet ups.

Sunset over the coast with dune vegetation in the foreground
A smiling woman stands in the dunes holding a small pine tree that has just been removed

During my time on placement, I have gained and improved valuable practical skills which will enhance my future employability.  I have had the chance to plan and carry out plant, invertebrate, and reptile surveys independently, increasing my species ID knowledge along the way, and have been trained to use specialist equipment to carry out water sampling surveys.  I have also enjoyed taking part in engagement events with the public and other volunteer groups, participating in practical conservation tasks and answering questions about the habitats across Studland and the species that are special to it.

Just as importantly, my 5 weeks spent at Studland have been great fun!  Working both with professionals in ecology and with fellow students, having the opportunity to see nationally rare charismatic species was really exciting and made the hard work required all the more satisfying and enjoyable.

A small brown female sand lizard sunbathes on a rock
A small green male sand lizard pokes its head out from its hiding place under some yellowing dune vegetation
A smiling woman stands outside and turns to look at the camera

About the Author

Helen Coleman
Dunescapes Placement Student

Helen is studying Biodiversity Conservation at Bournemouth University and is researching the ecological role of small mammals at Purbeck Heaths National Nature Reserve for her postgraduate research project.