Hi everyone, my name is Teri and I have recently joined the team at South West Lakes as an early career ecologist. I am currently working on a South West Water funded part-time project helping to manage, restore and conserve those of our sites that lie within designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). These include Burrator and Lopwell Dam in Devon and Crowdy in Cornwall. 

Originally from the small UK-overseas Territory of Ascension Island, I have always had a curiosity for the natural world, a sense of wonder and connection.  Ascension Island is known for its endemic Frigate birds, nesting Green Sea Turtles and endemic Island Land Crabs. As children we learnt a lot about our island’s native and endemic species and contributing to conservation efforts was a part of our small island community. 

In my early teens my family and I relocated to Cornwall and I continued to enjoy the outdoors but was unsure of my options and worked within the childcare sector for many years. 

It was not until 2015 and in my late 20s, that I came across the conservation and ecology course at Newquay University Centre. Here I learnt about the English countryside, its coastal environments and all of the amazing wildlife Cornwall has to offer. I was able to carry out habitat surveys, scientific research, develop GIS mapping skills and data analysis. The experience and skills I gained was everything I could have imagined and more. 

In 2017, I then had the incredible opportunity to travel to Borneo on a student research trip. There, I spent a week in the rainforest collecting valuable research data for the Danau Girang Field Centre in Sabah.  This included conducting primate, fish and riparian bird surveys along the Kinabatangan River and tracking through the rainforest in search of amphibians, invertebrate and reptiles. We even got to see the Gomantong caves and watched as millions of bats flew out at dusk.

During these years of study I was also able to connect with wonderful local action groups and organisations that are doing incredible conservation work. Becoming a member of CRAG (Cornwall Reptile and Amphibian Group), a Site Guardian for South West Lakes and weekly volunteering for my local Community Interest Company ‘EarthShare’ I continued to develop new skills and learn from their members’ expertise.   

In 2021 I was honoured to be invited by Her Majesty’s Government to attend a Reception of the Joint Ministerial Council at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Offices. There I met other young adults from across the UK-overseas Territories embarking on a career in the environmental sciences. On meeting Prince William we were able to highlight the impact climate change is having on small island nations and their unique ecosystems including here in the UK. In return he spoke about optimism and hope for the future.  

Since these events I have continued my conservation work voluntarily and have used my new found knowledge and ecological skills to help with restoration projects, outreach events and monitoring. 

In my new role as an ecologist for South West Lakes, I have been using all of my skills I have learnt along the way and find myself still continuously learning. All of my SSSI project sites are unique, supporting incredibly important species, habitats and even geological features. In my next post I will be talking about some of these sites, why they have been designated and what we are doing here at South West Lakes to help restore and conserve these valuable areas of rivers and land.