Whinsill & Wildwood


MSc Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Management students out doing exactly what their course title suggests they should be doing:

  1. On the amazing Sill roof – National Park at Once Brewed checking with Janet Simkin, its creator and lecturer on course, to see what is growing after the snow…and a visit to the actual whinsill grassland at Walltown quarry, with a short detour to Hadrian’s Wall.
  2. Out with alumnus Steven Lipsocmbe of Northumberland Wildlife Trust planting native woodland on the 100ha site in the depths of the Kielder Forest. What a privelege to be part of this (also amazing) project

Steven showing us the iconic William’s Cleugh pine

“This is the first tree I’ve ever planted in my entire life and I love it”

Will is learning the species on the roof ready for his Whinsill dissertation project: Alex is obviously impressed by his vast knowledge

On top of the world

Planning student bog projects with National Park

3rd year Environmental Science will be planning their projects in a couple of weeks. I went out to Lampert SSSI with Abi (NNPA) and Richard (NU) to generate some ideas for them and the biology students.

Follow the link to show how our previous grazing work has been digitized by the National Park as part of an exhibition at the Sill https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wucItqfdkP0&feature=youtube

These are just a few of the current projects:

Comparison of the effectiveness of heather brash, wood chip and nothing – on the stabilisation and revegetation of the peat

Blocking drains creates pools – maybe a student will want to investigate the aquatic invertebrates

Can you see where the brash was cut from? We could monitor the regrowth of the vegetation compared with the uncut area

First Year Environmental Science – First Science Project

First year BSc Environmental Science (and Countryside Management) students get to  carry out their first investigative project at Belford Burn, Northumberland using the field skills they have been learning. I love it, because they have to do all the work – the questioning, the thinking, the risk assessment, equipment lists, the printing… I just get to ask questions like, “why do you think that is important?” and “how do you think you will measure that?” and “how will you decide where will you sample”?

Some of the projects are illustrated below:

Measuring water flow – comparing to different techniques (flow meter and ping pong ball) to see how water flow changes down stream

Comparing floral diversity with arthropod diversity in woodland, heathland and arable habitats

Using aquatic invertebrates and a field nitrate colorimeter to assess pollution –  from the source of the river in the hills, through grassland, arable and urban habitats

Verdict: the students are better at remembering equipment than I am ; next year we want more rain before we go; sheep aren’t as scary as some London born and bred students might have previously thought; mistakes were made and learned from; we all had a brilliant time.

Hello world!

I am Helen Adamson, ecologist, lecturer, degree program director for MSc Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Management, senior tutor, contact for students wanting to study abroad. I work with the environmental science, agriculture, food marketing, agri-business, countryside managers, rural studies, animal science and earth science students in the School of Natural and Environmental Science, Newcastle Uni.

I love: bogs and moors and moss and grass and experiments and data – and working with students.

I don’t love: it when students ask me a question by email that I have posted on BlackBoard and said in a lecture.

I also enjoy: trying to play the fiddle, turning cartwheels, live streamings at our cinema and doing stuff with Church.

On this blog I’m planning to track some of the brilliant and fun things our students get up to while they are learning. And maybe one or two other things that cross my mind.

Slightly bedraggled, but happy