This intermediate course will provide you with the skills required to confidently use the National Vegetation Classification in summer as a framework to approach how plant communities are responding to environmental change.

In order to best conserve plant communities, we have to understand how they relate and respond to environmental conditions and management.

This course will introduce the idea of indicator species and what they can show us. The National Vegetation Classification (NVC) will be used to show how assemblages of species can give us information about soils, climate, hydrology and other factors, and how management can shape and conserve plant communities. This is a valuable skill for anyone working or looking to work within the environmental consultancy sector. There will be an element of botanical identification, especially of plants in their vegetative state, and also some important bryophytes. As much time as possible will be spent outside, exploring the magnificent countryside and habitats of South Devon. There will also be the opportunity to use vegetation analysis computer programmes with data collected in the course, providing you with a solid baseline knowledge of this valuable survey method.

Your course will take place within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty close to field sites in Dartmoor National Park and urban centres in Plymouth and Torbay.

PLEASE NOTE the course fee is for tuition only. There is no accommodation provided with this course. If you would like to book accommodation, lunch and an evening meal at Slapton Ley, please email [email protected]

Who Should Attend?

Nature enthusiasts, Students, Rangers, Early career ecologists.

Knowledge Level

Intermediate. Level descriptors can be found on the following webpage: Framework and Course Level Descriptors

Prior Knowledge

It would beneficial for participants to have some species identification background as we will be seeing many plants different types of plants including rare species.

This course will cover:

    • Classroom-based learning of NVC framework
    • Field visits to a variety of habitats near Slapton Ley
    • Introduction to rare botanical species
    • Use vegetation analysis computer programmes with data collected in the course
    • Identifying plants using keys

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

    • Describe the ecology of limestone habitats
    • Identify some important plant families and characteristic limestone species
    • Confidently use an identification key
    • Share this knowledge with friends, family and fellow volunteers.

The course gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new subject and acquire novel skills. Our fantastic tutor will combine the use of classroom-led learning and outside learning opportunities to give individuals the skills and confidence to progress their learning.

  • See the ‘Example Timetable’ and ‘What’s Included’ sections below for more information about this course.
  • Upon booking you will need to provide individual details of all attendees
  • Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.

Group Bookings Made Easy

If you have a group of 10 or more individuals wanting to complete one of our courses, our team are available to discuss your options – from discounts to private team courses.

  • Discounted rates
  • Privately run courses for your group
  • Bespoke courses developed specifically for your needs

Click here to find out more! 

If we are unable reach viable numbers for this course, we will inform you of the course cancellation 14 days prior to the course run. We would recommend when purchasing accommodation and/or travel you should take out your own insurance.

Tutor: Philip Wilson

Phil Wilson has been a freelance vegetation scientist, studying Britain’s plants and vegetation, since 1991. His PhD focused on the ecology and conservation of the arable flora and he worked with Plantlife for several years on some of our rarest plants. He also manages a small farm in East Devon, but enjoys travelling round the country. 

Book with Confidence

We understand the difficulties of making plans in the current situation when guidelines continue to change, and insurance conditions are being tightened. In response, we will continue to offer additional flexibility. Find out more here

Example Timetable

Example Timetable

This timetable is subject to change but should give a clear outline of what to expect

    • Please arrive at 9:45am in time for the course to start promptly at 10:00am
    • The course will end at 5:00pm

Day 1

10:00amIntroductions
10:30amPrepare for field session
10:45amVisit to Berry Head
1:00pmLunch – Not included
2:00pmContinued field time
4:30pmReturn to classroom - plenary and final questions
5:00pmEnd of day 1

Please note accommodation, refreshments and an evening meal are not included

Day 2

10:00amRecap of day 1
10:30amPrepare for field session
10:45amVisit to Dartmoor
1:00pmLunch – Not included
2:00pmContinued field time
4:00pmReturn to classroom - plenary and final questions
5:00pmEnd of course

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition

The course has been carefully created by expert tutors and educators to help you continue to build and develop your knowledge and apply it within the field surrounded by like-minded individuals.

The course includes:

  • Classroom learning covering the theory of the species
  • Field excursions to apply new knowledge
  • Expert tuition for which the Field Studies Council is renowned
  • Clear objectives and progression

You can rest assured that the absolute best content from an expert in environmental education will be provided. In choosing a Field Studies Council course, you will be joining thousands of people who learn with us each year.

Before You Attend

What to bring:

  • Notepad and pencil.
  • Personal plant identification books.
  • Hand lens, min 8x magnification*.
  • Lunch and refreshments
  • Sensible footwear and clothing for being outdoors

*These items can be borrowed at the Centre.

There will be a member of staff with first aid training and access to a first aid kit on site. If you have special medical or access requirements, please let us know as soon as possible so we can plan the course.

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