Citizen Science, & Careers
Although our main focus is to work with businesses and Livery companies to help raise awareness and to make London a greener, more pollinator-friendly place through supporting appropriate initiatives, we would be remiss if we didn't embrace the fact that everyone can make a difference.
If you can go outside, wherever you are, then you can help just by noting what you see. Perhaps you are considering career options and just know that you would like to help the environment. This page has a few pointers for you.
Any one of us can contribute simply by observing and noting what we see. Recording schemes are an invaluable source of data for the scientists looking at pollinators, their behaviours (which plants are they visiting, when, where in the country?) and assessing the scale of any success stories.
Every year there seems to be some new recording initiative encouraging your to log your sightings, but it is worth ensuring that your data is likely to be used, and in a meaningful way.
The Bumblebee Conservation Trust is a science-based charity, and as such, their Science Manager, Dr Richard Comont recommends three ways in which we can all contribute to the collection of data.
At a glance...
Wherever you are, whether it be a garden, local park or city centre, you can keep an eye out for pollinators and log your finds. Even if you cannot identify something yourself, there are various Facebook groups and Twitter accounts who will help. Just take some pictures (phone ones are fine) and ask for help. Why not have a try yourself using books and online guides? Once you know what you have seen, log it on iRecord. Remember to note the date and location of the spot.
The goal of iRecord is to make it easier for wildlife sightings to be collated, checked by experts and made available to support research and decision-making at local and national levels.
If you have an hour or so each month (March to October) and are able to walk a set route and look out for bumblebees whilst on it, then you should consider becoming a Bee-Walker.
BeeWalk is a standardised bumblebee-monitoring scheme which involves volunteer ‘BeeWalkers’ walking the same fixed route (transect) once a month between March and October, counting the bumblebees seen and identifying them to species and caste (queen, worker, male) where possible.
There are a number of established transects fully set up on the website which are not currently being walked, and are consequently looking for a new BeeWalker. You could really make a difference if you are able to cover one of them. Even if you cannot, do think about setting up your own local route.
A 'FIT' count is a 'Flower-Insect-Timed' count, which is an initiative by the Pollinator Monitoring Scheme. PoMS is a partnership of research organisations and environmental charities, including the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. FIT counts are designed to be basic, straightforward surveys for anyone to carry out when they have a few spare minutes.
PoMS is the only scheme in the world generating systematic data on the abundance of bees, hoverflies and other flower-visiting insects at a national scale (currently across England, Wales and Scotland). Together with long-term occurrence records collated by the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society and Hoverfly Recording Scheme, these data will form an invaluable resource from which to measure trends in pollinator populations and target our conservation efforts.
This video gives an easy to understand overview of how to carry out a FIT count, whilst the PDF provides further detail.
Careers in Wildlife and Environmental Science/Conservation
There are lots of routes into environmental work from a variety of starting points. Voluntary work will give those interested an insight into what the work might entail. Places like the Wildlife Trusts, National Trust, Wildlife and Wetlands Trust and RSPB are good starting points. Land-based colleges such as Capel Manor College in London offer apprentice routes as well as full time diplomas at level 1, 2 and 3. A level 3 Environmental Conservation and Countryside Management Advanced Certificate would allow you to combine work, paid or volunteering, and training. Sciences at GCSE, ‘A’ level or degree will provide good entry to further study in the Environmental Sciences.
This article by Emma Knowles of Prospects.ac.uk is interesting further reading.
Here are some ideas of careers you can get into if you have a degree in Environmental Science, from the Committee of Heads of Environmental Sciences: