Ecology and Conservation Biology Personal Statement Example

Conservation ecology is the accumulation of everything that sparked enthusiasm in me during my childhood. A large part of my upbringing was based around the natural world: curiosity and kindness towards living things is a principle I was taught and have carried with me to the present day. The way that ecology is an umbrella term of many subjects -biology, geography, sociology, economics, chemistry- is only one reason why I find it a dynamic, ever-changing concept that is shaped by, and has shaped, society. The protection and liberation of nature cannot be achieved without sound understanding; this is why I believe a degree in the science of conservation will provide me with the means to make a difference on a planet under threat.

My A-levels are constantly providing insight into the potential of ecological study. The reliance of environmental systems on fragile biological processes in geography; in chemistry, research into the effects of non-biodegradable polymers on food chains and habitats. In biology we completed a field studies assessment on coastal ecology of rocky shores, focusing on the distribution of seaweed and shellfish species and their adaptations to tide levels. This task involved a lot of statistical testing and data handling - a skill honed by my Level 3 in Mathematical Studies.

A range of books and media have influenced my personal and academic curiosity. Surprisingly, the first example is Red Dwarf by Grant Naylor, when Lister speculates that the ravaged planet Earth is a thinking, willing entity with a vendetta against the human race. I was stirred by the idea of the Earth as a whole biosystem (minus the conscious thought) - one individual I followed in this topic is James Lovelock, and his hypothesis of the Earth’s regulation, Gaia. I admire Lovelock’s radical outlook, which I believe is the kind of divergent approach needed to implement meaningful change.

Inspired by his work, I began an EPQ investigating how a more holistic view of the Earth can benefit society, in relation to anthropogenic threats to wildlife and our role in global ecology. I chose to emphasize the human factor of ecology as it encapsulates an important aspect of how conservation efforts are managed, and will be managed in the future. To me, all of this depends on open awareness and will to act. I found this view particularly relevant in Wilding, by Isabella Tree, where the author describes the value drawn from public support, and understanding of harmful agricultural practices, while rewilding a British farm. This is a book I find to have significant contemporary substance: Tree’s ‘leap of faith’ when rewilding the Knepp estate was in defiance of conventional conservation methods, which generally involve micromanaging and unrealistic targets. I aspire to be an advocate for the benefits of rewilding, and hope to play a part in similar projects in the future.

My most invaluable form of learning is practical: my voluntary work as a Ranger at an RSPB reserve. Since March 2018 I have gained indispensable skills working directly in wetland habitat management, bird of prey conservation strategy, and species identification. In this time I have accumulated knowledge of waterfowl, herons, and grebes, their behaviour, and the nature of their food chain. I plan to use the experience I have gained to develop primary research for my EPQ, with RSPB St Aiden’s as an example of a local biodiverse ecosystem. I hope my volunteering acts as a catalyst for opportunities in conservation and policy later on, as my time there reflects practice and capability in a real-world setting, working with professionals in the field. Being able to inspire equally passionate people via education is extremely gratifying - especially when surrounded by specialists who have made it their life’s work.

I am confident a degree studying the components and network of life itself will enable me to expand my appreciation for biology, and I invite it to provide a challenge for me.

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Author's Comments

This got me into Reading, Lancaster, East Anglia, and Bournemouth - I'm still waiting for a decision from Exeter but pretty good going so far!
Can be applied to Ecology and Wildlife Conservation as well as Ecology and Conservation Biology courses, or just ecology any degree.
Hope you find it useful!

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