My Name is Craig Cornish and I am a 22 year old Geography graduate and previous trainee teacher. After deciding that teaching was not for me, I set my heart on working towards a career within the environmental and conservation sectors. Here’s a snapshot of how I came to volunteer with the West Glamorgan and Gower Branch of the Wildlife Trust, and what I have been up to with the trust since I started in February.
On day one with the Wildlife Trust I helped Rebecca, a Trust Officer, and four other volunteers to complete a project to assess whether dormice are present in Gelli Hir woods. To do this we placed the remaining fifty out of one hundred temporary nest boxes in three transects throughout the woods, taking a GPS point at the start and finish of each run. This proved difficult in patches, as finding trees with suitable branches about 10 yards apart with Bramble coverage underneath (a favourable habitat for dormice) was not always possible. It was great to work as a team to complete the project with Rebecca, and the other volunteers were really welcoming and knowledgeable. I thoroughly enjoyed my first day; I felt that I learnt a lot in regard to the trust’s work and the importance of volunteers when it comes to carrying out its various projects.
On my second outing, John, a fellow volunteer, and I worked with Jay, a Trust Officer, to clear some scrub and spread wood chippings to create an outdoor woodworking area for Paul at the Trust base at Bishopston. After finishing this, we loaded a charcoal kiln on the trailer and set out to the woods at Gelli Hir. Once at Gelli Hir, we began the process of digging in the charcoal kiln. This involved lying the 6ft round kiln on the ground and roughly marking the outline. After rolling the heavy kiln away, we laid out the kiln vent, making sure of equal spacing around the kiln. After lots of digging and shunting around the kiln, which proved hard work between the three of us, we managed to manoeuvre the kiln into the correct position and sealed the edges with clay. Again I had a great day; I also found it very rewarding to help the Trust to produce charcoal - something that they can sell to help fund conservation work.
Scrub clearance at the Dranges, the Wildlife Trust’s newest reserve, was the job for my third day’s volunteering. With Rebecca, John, Anne, Huw and I working really well as a team, we began to clear the trees using Slikys, Bow Saws and Loppers. It was really satisfying to see the progress we made over the course of the morning removing and processing the trees. After a satisfying lunch, watching two buzzards circle overhead, we went back to work and finished off clearing the scrub.
So far my experiences with the Wildlife Trust have been diverse, fellow volunteers brilliant and the conservation work interesting to say the least. I have gained a great insight into working in conservation, and have developed plenty of practical skills which will come in useful for the future. Being part of a team that maintains the Beautiful Gower countryside is also source of great pride to me. I would highly recommend volunteering to anyone who wants to gain experience, develop their interest in wildlife or become part of the Swansea community.
Kit securing a dormice box at Gelli Hir Me clearing scrub at the Dranges