Jenna Lane is currently working as a Licensing Officer at Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) in Inverness. Prior to this role, she managed to secure a Graduate Placement with SNH just before finishing her Master’s dissertation – perfect timing! Jenna tells us about her placement experience and where it has taken her.
As part of this placement, I undertook a project which involved researching all of the European Protected Species (EPS) found in Scotland and creating a dossier for each species. Each dossier included information about the species’ basic ecology, relevant legislation, population and distribution, conservation status, licences issued from SNH, pressures, and opportunities for further studies. All of this information provides the SNH Licensing Team with one up-to-date source of information on each EPS and helps the team issue licences more proportionately across the EPS which places more focus on rarer, less distributed species.
This project presented me with a range of opportunities, including meeting with species specialists and going to training events and conferences. For example, I met up with SNH’s natterjack toad specialist in Dumfries and SNH’s cetacean specialist in Shetland, where I went on site visits to learn more about the species for my project. I went to events such as the Scottish Bat Workers conference with the Bat Conservation Trust and a Deer Management Best Practice Day with SNH; informal training days to learn more about bats, red squirrels, beavers and pine martens, and formal training courses such as the Natura and EPS and the PRINCE Lite Project Management training courses with SNH.
I gained many valuable skills during my Graduate Placement, including working independently and as part of the Licensing team; sourcing and reviewing literature; analysing licensing data; communicating with SNH colleagues as well as external professionals; report writing; project management; broadened and more in-depth knowledge of Scottish species and nature conservation legislation; and an understanding of how a large nature organisation works.
Near the end of my Graduate Placement, an opportunity came up to apply for a Licensing Officer role within the team I was already working in. Thanks to my wildlife biology background and all of the experience I had gained over the past few months working at SNH, I was offered the job. My current role essentially involves licensing individuals to carry out activities in relation to protected species which would otherwise be illegal under legislation. The job is very varied and I definitely feel I’m gaining a lot of valuable skills that will be transferable into my future career.
My time at SNH has opened up my eyes to the wide variety of options that are available in the field of nature and conservation and has helped me to narrow down what I’m interested in. However, I’m still uncertain of exactly what I want my future career to entail! My dream is to work in the field of wildlife conservation research, but I’ve also toyed with the idea of doing a PhD or doing teacher training. Who knows what the future holds!
All images © Jenna Lane/SNH