Cornwall has developed another UK first, with the launch of a Master’s degree that focuses on the ecological restoration of industrial land.
MSc Land and Ecological Restoration, delivered by The Cornwall College Group (TCCG) and Eden Project Learning from September 2018, is based at the Eden Project and includes a trip to the educational charity’s new venture in China.
Director of higher education at TCCG, Dr Mark Nason, said the introduction of the course couldn’t be timelier.
“There is so much land across the world that needs to not only be cleaned up, but needs to be put into productive use,” he explained.
“More land as a percentage is classified as derelict in Cornwall than any other county, making it the ideal base for the course. As the human population grows, so does the imperative not just to mitigate against further deterioration, but to actively seek to restore and recover damaged and destroyed habitats to achieve environmental growth.”
Employment in this area is only going to grow as we continue to increase quarrying and other industrial developments, according to Dr Nason.
“Fortunately, there is a growing consensus that we want to clear up land that is already damaged and what makes this Master’s degree unique, is that is the only one that puts the focus on the ecological element of the restoration,” he continued.
“The ecological element of land restoration is the effort to restore habitats and biodiversity naturally so the land regains its ability to do things such as protect us against flooding or store carbon.”
Not only will students have access to unique facilities at Eden, including Europe’s largest indoor rainforest, they will also have the chance to work on the development of the first overseas Eden Project, Eden Qingdao in China.
Head of Eden Project Learning and expert in the field of environmental education Professor Robert Barratt said he believed the course “is in the national interest”.
He said: “This Master’s degree is an incredible opportunity for students with the added bonus of them being able to work on a project which is being built on land damaged by industrial-scale prawn farming.
“Our students will learn how to identify restoration priorities, engage stakeholders, plan, implement and monitor programmes of restoration, evaluate the success of activities, and plan aftercare.”
The learners will also contribute to site surveys, assessment and restoration of reclaimed and environmentally-damaged land and learn the techniques used by Eden’s partners in the creation of new visitor attractions.
Embedded in the course are key principles and standards developed by professional bodies including the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) and Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).
On completion of the course, students will be able to move into PhD research, restoration project management, become a restoration ecologist, work for or launch an ecological/environmental consultancy or work within government bodies, to name just a few areas of progression.
Moving forward, it is expected modules of the course will be available as standalone professional development options.
Once approved by the Government, there is also the potential to offer the contents of the course as a Level 7 apprenticeship.
“Anyone interested should get in contact with us now as they could be part of the first ever cohort of students on this ground-breaking, or should we say ground-fixing course,” Dr Nason added.