Supporting Student Placements

Working alongside students and supporting them as they explore the world of nature conservation in Wales is something that INCC is very proud to be doing. Most recently we teamed up with Cardiff University to welcome Chemistry student Caitlin Ngheim to the team.

I’ve recently just completed my first year at Cardiff University studying chemistry. Studying Biology at A-levels I have a brief knowledge of the importance of having a biodiverse environment and saw this opportunity working alongside INCC to gain an insight of what can be done to improve wildlife. Specifically relating to chemistry, larger companies are beginning to become more sustainable regarding energy and resources which drove me to wok alongside this charity. Small charities, such as INCC, have a valuable impact on smaller communities, impacts which larger companies should strive to achieve.

My first session involved visiting a farm near Barry, whose owner was interested in making their land more suitable for wildlife. Having lived only in big cities, it was refreshing to have a glimpse of wildlife I wouldn’t usually encounter; despite there being more to improve on. We went around the land and surveyed what wildlife was already present to later decide what the best course of action for improvement should be. I never realised before how much thought went into nature conservation and how it’s simply not just planting trees. I was aware that different species required specific niches to flourish however learnt that certain areas required certain management to thrive. For instance, it was interesting to learn about the effect of Dutch elm disease on elm trees. It was encouraging to learn that people can aid in the maintenance of elm after its sharp decline in past years within the UK and how simply just cutting the hedgerow of elm prevented the infection. Other contributions such as introducing larger grass margins within farmland fields, I learnt, would aid the survival of the brown hare from predation as well as introducing new wildlife nearer to rivers.

It was bought to my attention that introducing these measures wasn’t simply just to make drastic changes but also involved compromises. Nature conservation involves difficult decisions and a healthy balance to please both wildlife and farmers – who ultimately provide our food. So, creating these niches required specific planning and balance of farmland and habitat. It was difficult to see the effects of farming on wildlife and taught me new methods on how to work alongside the effects of fertilising crop.

Other days I would help at the wildlife garden in Garnant planting wildflowers. It was a beautiful site and a great source for new insects to come about. It was nice to see the contributions of the charity and the local community who also support the move to a more biodiverse world.

Now after having completed this experience, I do want to aim for a career within chemistry that would aid in nature conservation and a more sustainable world so more are able to enjoy the wildlife I enjoyed on my visits – and more.

Caitlin Nghiem

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