Baker Consultants

The Diary of an Ecology Apprentice: Meeting Clients, Rothamsted Research & CIEEM 2023 Autumn Conference

Exactly one year into his ecology apprenticeship, Matthew Keough had his busiest month yet with client meetings, ecoacoustics research at Rothamsted Research and a trip down to the CIEEM 2023 Autumn Conference in Liverpool with some of his colleagues at Baker Consultants.

This month has been one of my favourite months working at Baker Consultants; it’s been a busy, exciting and extremely rewarding month.

The month started with me continuing to help on a huge project we have on at the minute, which requires me to map a 100-meter buffer along a route that’s 26 kilometres across England and Wales. Safe to say it will take me weeks to complete! Our director, Andrew Baker, asked me to help with the mapping and Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) calculations for an interesting site he’s been working on for the past couple of years. They are turning a boring modified grassland field into a cool, modern home surrounded by a beautiful heathland with scattered spinneys; something that could be super beneficial for wildlife. The top of the field has public access and I had the opportunity to provide recommendations to the client and talk about how dog walkers, for example, would affect the quality of the created heathland in that area and talk about other more realistic approaches we could take to benefit nature and people. Being one of my first client interactions I had a really fun time and the project is something I will be really proud of once completed.

My dissertation research officially kicked off this month, with a trip down to Rothamsted Research, with our Director of Bioacoustics, Carlos Abrahams, and our Data Analyst, Karthik Ashok. We have a fascinating project in collaboration with University of Warwick, where we’re looking at soil bioacoustics and worm densities using the famous Rothamsted farm plots. It was a really insightful trip and we managed to collect a huge amount of data. It is something we will be repeating every month over the next six month, and I will be using it to complete my thesis.

The CIEEM 2023 Autumn Conference, held in Liverpool, kicked off on Wednesday 22nd November, and five members of the team, including me, attended to hear (and give, in the case of Carlos, Karthik and Gavin) talks about new innovations in field of ecology. The talks were incisive and went into great detail about the latest research and developments in the field. It was enthralling and, according to the CIEEM veterans, of a much higher standard than usual (lucky me – it was my first one!). The conference dinner was great fun. A local pastor and sand-dune expert Rev. Paul Rooney gave a talk to remember. It was witty, funny and filled with great facts about the history of Liverpool (we also all had a sing song together). Paul was very proud of his home city and rightfully so. After his talk, we were all inspired and a little giddy, so the rest of the night was a blast! The conference was a great experience and I learnt a great deal. The efforts to advance the field and to help ecologists to further help wildlife and the habitats that support them is phenomenal. What a time to be an ecologist.


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