A Career in Ecological Consultancy by Louise Woolley BSc MCIEEM – Principal Ecologist – GE Consulting

What do I do?

Ecological Consultancy involves undertaking surveys to evaluate habitats and species protected by law that make it illegal to injure and kill and, in some cases, disturb those species and their resting places.

I undertake surveys for a wide range of species, although I specialise in bats, and write reports for a range of clients, predominantly for submission for planning applications. Within these reports I provide advice on mitigation, compensation and enhancement of sites in order to protect the wildlife of the UK.

I travel all over the south-west and every day is a new scenario and every site visit is a new adventure, often to interesting places. One thing I especially enjoy is exploring interesting architectural buildings.

How did I get here?

I was a late-comer into Ecological Consultancy as I undertook two years of an Ecology Degree, took a year out to go travelling and then had a family and did not return to Ecology until 2005 when I completed my degree through another three years of Open University.

I then started volunteering with the RSPB who guided me in the direction of surveying protected species, undertook as many courses as possible, started to invest my time in as many voluntary projects as possible and surveying bats.

I soon realised that bats were my thing, having the pleasure of doing something different and unusual; being out at night and having the world to myself was where I fitted best.

I then focused on all I could do to get as much experience in the field of bat ecology with dormouse ecology a close second. I always say to newcomers to the discipline that you need to specialise in two things and be a generalist as well.

What do I recommend to others interested in conservation?

•​Self-learning is the key for ecology as this is free. Read books and papers, learn plants and join species interest groups.

•​Volunteer to gain skills, experience and find your main interests and direction in conservation you would like to travel.

•​Commit as much time as you can early on and pick a wide variety of opportunities to learn as wide a range as skills as possible.

•​Join local groups to connect with people and opportunities.

•​Learn your plants – botany is not as scary as you think after a short time of investment!

CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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