Following the introduction of our ‘Meet the team’ page comes our mini blog series. Each week, hear personally from our team members about their roles at EcoNorth and more. This week, meet John, our Principal Ecologist.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am forty years young and from Northumberland, UK. While a range of exciting work opportunities have seen me venture much further afield, I have lived in Northumberland most of my life. Outside of my work I love to take the opportunity to enjoy the natural world (without recording it all meticulously) sometimes with my family or sometimes with my dog at my side. I love all sorts of activity and attempt to squeeze in bike rides, surfing and darts on an evening.
Summarise your role at EcoNorth
I have been an employee of EcoNorth since 2012, following previous involvement with the company as a Subconsultant. I love birds and naturally get very involved with and take a lead on projects which require detailed consideration of ornithology. As a Principal Consultant my role involves technical input to planning projects and reviewing outputs on our whole range of projects. I have been fortunate enough to get involved with some amazing projects at the construction stage; I now always take a keen interest in those projects as they provide an invaluable learning opportunity.
What got you into Ecology?
In my mind I have been an Ecologist from a very young age, looking closely at whatever wildlife I encountered. However, after volunteering for three months on nature conservation work in Cyprus, I became determined to pursue a career as an Ecologist. Initially this involved nature reserve management and wider conservation work before progressing to a Consultant role.
What do you like most about working as an Ecological Consultant?
There are many enjoyable aspects to working as an Ecological Consultant. My favourite parts change all the time as the workload evolves. I will always relish fieldwork, especially ornithology, but anything that gets me outdoors in fascinating places at interesting times of the day such as dawn and dusk is appealing. I also really appreciate learning from other disciplines such as Engineers, Hydrologists or Noise Experts when assessing or delivering projects.
Describe the project you have worked on that you are proudest of. What did you do that worked out particularly well?
Between 2015 and 2017, I project managed the ecology requirements of the construction phase of Morpeth Northern Bypass. The whole project ran successfully because all the key managers worked closely together to integrate the ecology requirements into the overall construction programme. It was also encouraging to see how the whole construction team embraced ecology and took a pride in ecological protection throughout the work.
What do you see for the future?
The ecology profession is likely to see developments in the future as a result of our changing position in Europe, where many of the directives which drive our laws and policies come from. Additionally, the national philosophy around nature conservation is always evolving and the national approach and priorities are likely to shift with that. From an individual perspective, I anticipate continuing to work with my colleagues at EcoNorth and other organisations with which we collaborate to provide the best possible advice to clients and ensure the best results for nature conservation.
Finally, what advice would you give to anyone starting out?
There are always time pressures to manage when working as a Consultant. However, I think it is really important to allow yourself time and space to consider projects and hold conversations with colleagues to bounce ideas and thoughts around before providing advice or drawing conclusions. More importantly in these busy times, make sure you take a step back and enjoy the privilege of working as an Ecologist.
Meet My Dog: Rosie
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am a four year old cocker spaniel and arguably the softest and friendliest dog in the world. I live with four humans and a stripy cat.
What do you like most about coming to the office?
I am not and will never be an office worker!
How do you help you owner be a better Ecologist?
I make sure John spends loads of time outside, in the woods as much as possible and often at times of the day when plenty of wildlife is around. I’m very talented at finding all of the badger pathways and setts in our local woods (though sometimes John can’t keep up or squeeze through fence lines like me). I’m particularly skilled at flushing pheasants in his direction. Also, I can always tell John when we have a hedgehog in the back garden.
What is the funniest thing you ever done?
I once made a mad dash through a big hotel at which I was allowed to stay to get to the dining room pursued by lots of children; I thought it seemed like a good idea!