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The Corporation

Posted: 11/07/12

From wild flowers to wildlife

An environmental studies student at West Nottinghamshire College is set to explore African wildlife and marine life on a biodiversity adventure.

Sam Wilson, who has just completed A Levels in history, biology and environmental studies, will be jetting off to South Africa for two weeks on Friday to begin a series of projects to learn more about the country’s ecology.

The 19-year-old’s adventures are part of Operation Wallacea which is an organisation that organises biological and conservational research programmes in remote locations across the world including Indonesia, Egypt, Cuba, Honduras, Guyana, Romania, South Africa and Madagascar.

Sam, from Ravenshead, will begin his journey at the Balule Nature Reserve followed by the Kruger National Park where he will get bush skills training and observe elephants in their habitats.   He will also undertake biodiversity surveys on invertebrates using a pitfall trap – a humane way of trapping animals to study them.

He will spend the second week studying marine life in Sodwana Bay on a specialised reef ecology course while having the opportunity to dive at a world heritage site.

Sam has helped to fund the project with classmates Katie Hill and Aimie Yeung, both 18, through a range of fundraising activities at the college and through wildflower seed sales.

Last year, Sam, Katie and Aimie set the first wildflower meadow on the college’s Derby Road fields to attract bees to a series of nesting boxes.  Since then, Sam and his classmates have harvested, dried and catalogued the seeds from this first wildflower meadow to produce sixty packets of seeds.

The seeds are available to purchase from the college and cost £1.50 per pack. The mixed wildflower packs include cornflower, corncockle, flax, poppies, mixed brassicas, wild mustard, calendula and sea stock. 

Sam said: “The money from the sale of these seeds will help fund my biodiversity project and it’s great to think that from these first wildflowers there’s the potential to sow another sixty wildflower meadows.

“I’m really looking forward to the trip to South Africa as I’ll be able to get hands-on experience with animal and plant species that I’ve never seen before, put the skills I’ve learnt into practice and get some new skills in this area.  This will be a wonderful opportunity to learn more about biodiversity in this part of the world before I start my degree in Zoo Biology at Nottingham Trent University.”

People can purchase packets of wildflower seeds from the college’s Derby Road, Chesterfield Road and Ransom Hall receptions for £1.50.