Bioscience student makes a world of difference to wildlife charity

Mark Barber has temporarily swapped his research masters for charity work, after winning a place in this year’s Vodafone World of Difference UK programme

Mark Barber has temporarily swapped his research masters for charity work, after winning a place in this year’s Vodafone World of Difference UK programme.

The programme has given 500 people the opportunity to undertake paid work for a UK-based charity of their choice for two months and Gower-based Mark, aged 24, has been selected to work with Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) Trust.

Mark studied for his BSc Zoology undergraduate degree in the College’s Department of Biosciences, before graduating in 2008 and then embarking on a postgraduate MPhil degree on grass snake ecology, on which he is currently writing up his thesis.

And Mark has been a perfect match for the national wildlife charity, which has created a new post dedicated to the conservation of Welsh amphibians, reptiles and their habitats.

His role as the ARC Trust’s first Species Officer for Wales involves highlighting the ongoing conservation of British herpetofauna (amphibians and reptiles) and promoting the Trust’s work at regional and local public events.

As part of his remit, Mark is also providing training in survey, identification techniques, and habitat management for members of the public and employees of organisations who may come into contact with British herpetofauna in their day-to-day operations. 

His role involves assessing the status of species including the protected great crested newt, using computer modelling.  Survey work will then be undertaken with some of the ARC Trust’s volunteers, to confirm the computer modelling predictions.

His role also involves liaising with statutory conservation bodies in policy development and advocacy.

Mark, who is a member of the University’s Conservation Ecology Research Team Swansea (CERTS), said: “I am thrilled to have been given this opportunity to work with the ARC Trust to assist the conservation of our declining native amphibians and reptiles in Wales.

MARK BARBER 

“My role is proving to be a rewarding challenge as I get to travel around Wales, increasing volunteers’ and workers’ understanding of these overlooked creatures.

“I’m looking forward to completing my thesis and Masters degree when this position comes to an end, before hopefully securing a permanent position in the wildlife sector helped by the valuable experience of working for ARC.”

For more information about the Vodafone World of Difference UK programme visit http://worldofdifference.vodafone.co.uk/default.aspx, and about the ARC Trust visit http://www.arc-trust.org/.

For further information, please contact Bethan Evans, Swansea University Public Relations Office, Tel: 01792 295049 or email b.w.evans@swansea.ac.uk.