As my internship with the Galloway Fisheries Trust draws to a close, I would like to say how grateful I am to everyone that made it possible.
Over the past few weeks, I have slightly steered away from fieldwork and have been getting involved in more of the preparation that goes into habitat restoration works. In order for works to go ahead, they need to be carefully planned out, you need to secure permissions from landowners and you need to assess exactly what is to be done in order to benefit local freshwater ecosystems in the most effective and natural ways possible. These things can take a considerable amount of time though as there are usually multiple stakeholders that you need to communicate with in order to move things forwards, which is why I am glad of the insight I am gaining by getting involved. I now have a clearer idea of how to organise habitat works much more efficiently.
I was recently tasked with creating some maps using ArcGIS pro, a geographic information system, to highlight some problem areas that need to be improved on a number of watercourses throughout different catchments. I had received training from SFCC on how to use ArcGIS pro only two days prior to being given this task which goes to show that the training is highly relevant to the work that I will be doing in this field, and also highlights what a valuable experience my internship at GFT has been for me.
I also got involved with a habitat survey where the construction of a wind farm has been proposed near a series of burns. The purpose of the habitat survey was to see if the burn was suitable to support any fish populations. It was important to know this as GFT did not have any historical fish population data for the burns as they have not been electro-fished before. We found that the burns did in fact seem very suitable to host fish, we even got a glimpse of a trout making its way upstream, most likely on its way to spawn, which proves that there are fish present.
I have now completed all but one of my training courses which is set to run in January next year. In total I will have completed eight separate training courses, some being a lot more skills-based for example, quad bike operator, electrofishing, and chainsaw crosscutting and maintenance. Whereas some of them focus more on the theory side of things such as the introduction to hydro-morphology and erosion management courses run by the River Restoration Centre. This is beneficial to me as it has allowed me to improve not only my practical skills but also my understanding of how and why we do what we do at GFT.
Finally, I would just like to say I have had the best time over the past six months, I have learned so much, got to work with some amazing people and have received lots of useful training, some of which, as you know, I have already been regularly putting into practice and I am sure I will continue to do so in the future. And, to anyone reading this that is considering applying for a future GFT internship, I highly recommend that you go for it. You will not regret it!