TEP was proud to sponsor the 2017 Student Project Award at the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management luncheon. The keynote speech was given by Baroness Young, formerly Chair of the Environment Agency and RSPB. Baroness Young joined us having hotfooted it across London from Parliament where she had been attending the Queen’s Speech. She was able to give a very fresh interpretation of the Government’s environmental thinking and the challenges facing environmentalists to articulate the importance of the natural world in a political environment dominated by talk of Brexit.
The lunch was on the longest and hottest day of 2017, so there was a risk that after a couple of glasses at wine at lunch our guests might have enjoyed an understandable snooze! However, the awards ceremony after lunch was lively and fast-moving and our Ecology Director, Katie Shilcock was up on stage to congratulate the Student Project winner, Jacob Willmore of Anglia Ruskin University.
His project examined the use of the habitat suitability index and other population models for great crested newts. The recent introduction of eDNA testing and the use of population approaches to licensing means that a lot of trust is placed by Natural England in population modelling for newt conservation. It is thus important that the models are challenged and tested and refined in order that monies for newt conservation that are generated from development licences are used wisely and activity is targeted on areas where great crested populations will thrive.
Katie Shilcock reflects, ‘With TEP’s 20th birthday very much in our minds we were pleased to recognise the work of universities, students and researchers. We congratulate Jacob on his thesis and wish him well as he starts his ecological career.’