Meet Laura Bower: PTES’ Conservation Officer
In this series, we chat to the dedicated staff members at PTES. A team of 18 strong, we find out why each of them chose a career in wildlife conservation, what they find rewarding about their work and what they love most about what they do.
Conservation Officer at PTES
When did you first join PTES and why?
I joined PTES 16 years ago. I was previously working for the RSPB on farmland bird conservation, but wanted to get my teeth into a more varied role. From dormice to stag beetles, hedgehogs to noble chafers, this has definitely been a diverse role which has taken me all over the country and even further afield to Armenia, Slovenia and Bulgaria.
What’s your role and what is the most rewarding part of it?
As Conservation Officer, I manage our nature reserves (Briddlesford Woods on the Isle of Wight and Rough Hill orchard in Worcestershire) and I lead our beetle conservation projects. I think the most rewarding part is seeing the positive changes happening after we have managed an area of one of our reserves, for example coppicing the hazel at Briddlesford. Initially it can look stark and bare, but after a few months the spring flowers grow and butterflies appear, then bramble and honeysuckle – meaning food and nesting sites for dormice – and it continues to change over the years until the hazel reaches its peak nut production benefitting red squirrels too.
What has been your proudest moment so far?
It’s got to be appearing on Springwatch and Countryfile to talk about hedgehogs, dormice and stag beetles. Actually I think my mum was the most proud!
Tell us about a project you’re currently involved with
I am currently encouraging the public to love dead wood with our Map Your Log Pile project. We want people to keep a tree stump instead of digging it out, build a log pile which could provide a home for lichens, mosses, hedgehogs and frogs, or make a log pyramid which is a buried log pile for stag beetles. They can then tell us all about their log pile and where it is and it will appear straight away on our fabulous map.
Do you have a special love for a particular species and why?
I really love noble chafer beetles. They are so beautiful, but are rare and elusive and have some complicated habitat requirements. There is still a lot to learn about noble chafers and I think it’s their mysterious life that fascinates me.
Tell us your favourite wildlife fact
Wombat poo is cube-shaped.
What’s one thing everyone can do to help wildlife in their area?
Notice it, appreciate it, learn about it, tell others about it (sorry that was 4).
Do you have a recommendation for a nature book, film or TV programme?
I absolutely loved My Octopus Teacher, a beautiful film documenting a filmmakers year long friendship with an octopus just off the coast of South Africa. It is a heartfelt portrayal of the life of an octopus and I realised there was so much I didn’t know about them.
Laura manages our nature reserves; Briddlesford Woods and Rough Hill orchard, maintaining valuable habitat for many rare and endangered species. Find out more about our nature reserves below: