Meet the Volunteer - Jake Stone

Meet the Volunteer - Jake Stone

Jake Stone, Placement Intern, tells us about his background and his current intern role in the Monitoring and Research Team at The Wildlife Trust.

I started a three-month placement with the Wildlife Trust in April; I’m two and a half years through an insect ecology PhD at the University of Cambridge, and this placement forms a key part of my funding programme. My PhD focuses on tropical regions, looking specifically at ant communities and plantation practices in oil palm, so the placement at the Wildlife Trust is a great chance to learn more about local ecology and habitat management. 

The aim of my placement is to collate and generate a habitat-based data set that will allow the Wildlife Trust to calculate how much carbon is being stored/sequestered across the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire estate. I’ve been creating up to date habitat polygon maps for each of the BCN reserve sites; these can vary from a small pond with only a few habitat types, to a site like the Great Fen which spreads over 3,700 hectares and represents a large variety of both land use and vegetation cover types. 

Although the majority of my time has been spent working from home, I’ve had the opportunity to visit a couple of the reserves to look at the vegetation communities in more detail. This has been a real highlight and very rewarding to see sites I’ve pored over digitally for hours in real life! It also allowed me to brush up on my plant identification, and see how diverse and rich the reserves are. 

I’ve learnt some great new skills whilst on the placement, including being trained in QGIS mapping software and habitat classification systems, which will be really useful to take forward into other projects.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time on the placement, it has been especially valuable to have the chance to feel more connected with local wildlife, especially through the Covid-19 restrictions of the past few months.