"Fire, Chainsaws, 4x4's & ... Helicopters"

If asked why I got into conservation as a career my answer, only half in jest, would be so I could play with Fire, Chainsaws and 4x4's for the rest of my working life, and get paid for it. Although there are other things I could have added to that list I deemed that to be a suitable set of motivations. Having been in my new job for almost 2 months now I think it's time to add another to that list: Helicopters.

'Fire!' - one of my original motivations for getting

into conservation. And I'm only joking a little bit

when I say that.

I now work for Moors for the Future, a partnership of organisations working within the Peak District National Park and the South Pennines Special Area of Conservation (SAC) to restore moorland habitats many of which were damaged historically as a result of chronic air pollution from the surrounding industrial areas including Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield. My specific role involves planning and coordinating the works which take place to restore this damage. These works involve various task which all work together to achieve large scale re-vegetating and re-wetting of the moorland, and specifically the blanket bog habitats, in turn preventing further erosion of the peat soils which underpin these increasingly rare habitats.

'This is all very well and good' I hear you say, 'But where do Helicopters come into it'?

Well, quite often in fact. Because of the large quantities of material and the difficult (and in some cases literally impossible) access for ground vehicles, much of the work is undertaken from the air by Helicopters. In addition the work which is done by hand on the ground frequently involves materials being airlifted into position. It's a tough job, but someone has to oversee all this and at present it's me and the rest of the Conservation and Land Management team I work with (of which I am a very junior member by the way).

A photo from 'work' a few weeks back of a Vietnam era Huey

spreading granulated fertiliser from a specially adapted hopper

to assist in re-establishing a layer of vegetation to stabilise the bare peat.

With my ongoing Woodland Management work at The Riddy Wood Project adequately covering the first three reasons for getting into conservation, I figured there was room for another and my new job provides that. Having always been fascinated by flying - in fact being a Pilot was my childhood career aspiration for many years - there were no complaints from me when I was made aware that my new role would require regular involvement with flying machines!

If anyone has read this I suppose they are probably thinking: surely a camera should be on that list, considering this is a blog on a 'wildlife photography' website. Well no actually, and I will briefly explain why.

In essence it's because I could take photo's regardless of my job.

I didn't get into conservation because I wanted to be a wildlife photographer. Being directly involved in the conservation industry has perhaps provided me opportunities which wouldn't have been presented otherwise but there are many people out there who are far more accomplished and successful wildlife or nature photographers than I while holding down 'pen pusher' jobs at a desk in an office in a city. So for me, having opportunities to link photography with my work is wonderful, but not one of the original motivations for entering the industry.

Of course the real reasons behind both my choice of career (in Conservation) and my 'Hobby' (Photography) are a deep seated fascination with the natural world, an equally deep seated desire to learn about it myself and help others to learn about it. Inextricably linked with that is a keen interest in preserving and conserving that natural world, which is what my work with Moors for the Future entails - having seen before and after images of work completed prior to my joining them I was blown away by the differences they made and excited to be involved in that myself.


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