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Not A Typical Lesson

Flanders Moss NNR with SRUC HNC Countryside management students

Studying Countryside and Conservation at SRUC is not about what you learn in a lecture theatre. It is about the practical experience and applying your knowledge in the real environment. Our courses are a balance between in class learning, site visits and field work. This is to give the students a real sense on how students learning relates to the practicalities of working in this sector, enhancing their employability.

For example our Oatridge campus HNC Countryside Management students visited the National Nature Reserve (NNR) Flanders Moss as part of their studies. The students were able to receive the hands on practical experience of getting a guided tour around sections of the largest bog site in the UK lead by expert Dave Pickett.

Students were interacting with the guide Dave and his co-worker, Amee Hood, an alumnus of SRUC who studies Countryside Management not that long ago herself. Lecturer John McGregor taught Amee at SRUC and has kept in contact with Amee and the team. This has been a benefit to SRUC students as they are able to work and visit these sites.

The students could write about this particular site if they wished to for their upcoming assessment. Rather than writing about a site that they had read in a book or researched they were able to write from their own personal experience.  Students had the opportunity to ask questions associated with their assessments as well as receiving a guided tour and participating in practical work.

Dave shared some difficult scenarios the site had to deal with over the last few years including breaking machinery and his difficulty with some methods and express it was a “trial and error” due to the conditions of the site.

Dave emphasised “its scenarios like this you won’t learn from a textbook. You’re thinking is always evolving. It is not always going to be the same technique that works for 20 years and that is just part of the job”.

The previous year 60 SRUC students helped with the restoration work on the Flanders Moss site near Stirling. This was the largest volunteer numbers that the site had ever received. The restoration of the moss is a massive duty. The Moss itself is 860 hectors. With only a small team working over a number of sites the work that volunteers do is invaluable.

Students also learnt about the wildlife and were lucky enough to observe and photograph a White Tailed Sea Eagle. Dave expressed that this was not a common siting as the last time he saw one on site was over 10 years ago. The students also observed other species such as Red Kite and Hen Harriers.

Amee NNS worker looking through binoculars on Flanders Moss

The workers on the site make a conscious effort to conserve species that habitat on site and the students learned about the research undertaken by the site workers to identify areas on the moss that Adders were living in. This was in order to build around these area to ensure the Adderswere undisturbed.

The practical experience is not limited to the HNC countryside management students as last week NC Countryside Management students also received the practical experience at Blawhorn Moss NNR.  The NC Countryside Management students have been going out there to install anti slip strips on the boardwalk and additionally constructed peat dams in an attempt to try and retain the water in the bog to stop it drying out.

As part of the conservation section you will have to be prepared to work in whatever conditions Mother Nature wishes to through at you. The NC students had experience of this first hand. They continued to work hard applying the anti slip strips to the board work in the snow shower last week at Blawhorn Moss.

To find out more about the NNR Dave and Amee work on you can read more on the 2 Bogs, a Swamp and Some Island blog managed by Amee Hood.

Blawhorn Moss in Snow. SRUC Countryside management students working in background

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