Hello, my name is Delyth and I have recently started my Natural Networks traineeship at the Tree Life Centre in Bristol. The Natural Networks programme is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and aims to increase the biodiversity of local greenspaces to play a role within ecological networks as well as supporting communities to understand, value and protect their local greenspaces and develop them as a valuable part of local and national ‘green’ networks. My role will include supporting the day to day running of the Tree Life Centre as a community asset, engaging with community and youth groups and facilitating their participation in conservation activities at the Tree Life Centre and in the community.
I started my traineeship just over a month ago and in the next year I will keep you updated on what I am getting up to at the Tree Life Centre!
I thought I would start with a bit of background about me! I’m 25 and am from Cardiff in South Wales. I have always loved nature and the outdoors and spent most of my childhood playing and exploring the woods, parks and mountains in South Wales. At University I studied International Wildlife Biology which I loved, it gave me the chance to spend 1 and a half months learning about the fabulous wildlife in South Africa as well as 3 weeks in Indonesia studying wildlife in both the rainforest and coral reefs. In my third year I was lucky enough to be invited to Egypt to study an Ancient Egyptian dog catacomb for my dissertation, a once in a lifetime experience!
I went on to do a MSc in Environmental Conservation Management and since graduating I have worked in environmental education, first for the Field Studies Council, then at a council run field centre near Guildford and last year I was lucky enough to work for the RSPB at Newport Wetlands nature reserve teaching schoolchildren about wetland habitats and birds. I love teaching and engaging people with nature and hope to continue doing so during my time at the Tree Life Centre.
The Tree Life Centre
The Tree Life Centre is located in Kingswood, Bristol. As the name suggests it is a tree nursery, where we grow and sell trees as well as herbs, fruit bushes and wildflowers. It is located on the grounds of a community farm and visitors to the farm often come and see what we are up to and wander around our tree trail and wildlife garden. One of the aims for my traineeship is to raise awareness of the Tree Life Centre in the community and encourage more people to come to our events and join us on our volunteer days.
My First Month
During the first week of my traineeship I travelled to Edinburgh for a training week, this was my first trip to Scotland so I was rather excited! It gave me the opportunity to meet the other Natural Network trainees as well as those on our sister programme, Natural Talent. It was great getting to know everyone, particularly Imogen, the trainee based at Cardiff museum, who I will be collaborating with throughout the year! During the week we received health and safety, risk assessment, project management, and citizen science training and on the Friday we went for a trip to the Scottish Highlands and were lucky enough to spot two golden eagles!
On the 1st February I started at the Tree Life Centre. During my first week I had an induction and tour of the site with Jason, who is the project officer here and I met some of the volunteers (I still haven’t managed to remember all of their names!). I also helped out with the forest school sessions that run every Wednesday and attended the local Biodiversity forum where I met council ecologists and local “friends of” groups. I rounded off the week by helping plant over 1000 trees in the community in partnership with OVO energy as part of the one tree per child project – which was particularly challenging as it was hammering it down with rain the whole day!
Over the following weeks I continued to meet the different volunteers at the Tree Life Centre and helped to complete the tasks on site, including the transformation on an unused and overgrown willow dome into a willow archway complete with a living willow fence either side! I also continued to work with the children at the forest school sessions and booked my Forest School Leader Training for April which I am very excited about!
I have also been helping with the weekend events we run, including Family Nature Warrior sessions which involve whole families coming to the centre and carrying out a range of activities including campfire cooking, bush craft and conservation activities on site. We also have a group of young carers who come every other Saturday and we do teambuilding, bush craft, construction/conservation tasks and even pizza making!
As I have become more familiar with the site I have started to lead volunteer task days at the Tree Life Centre and am continuing to learn more about horticulture and construction tasks.
So that is what I have been up to so far, thanks for reading and I will provide another update next month.