A Portstewart man has been appointed by the RSPB to deliver a range of projects to help give nature a home in Northern Ireland.
Philip Carson (24) developed his passion for nature as a child growing up in the countryside.
“Between the ages of about seven and 13 I loved nothing more than exploring outside with my brother,” Philip told The Coleraine Times.
“At that age you don’t appreciate how lucky you are to live in a rural area but looking back, it definitely influenced me and my career choices.”
Philip went on to study Geography at the University of Ulster in Coleraine before undertaking a Masters in Environmental Law and Sustainability at Queen’s University Belfast.
While completing that qualification, Philip was accepted on the Skills for the Future programme, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The traineeship saw him take up the post of visitor services trainee at the RSPB’s nature reserve at Belfast Lough, where he enjoyed engaging with visitors of all ages and brushing up on his ID skills!
He said: “I really enjoyed meeting new people during my time at Belfast Lough, from schoolchildren to those who have been avidly birdwatching for years.
“My identification skills weren’t too bad when I started but they have improved a lot! A couple of weeks ago I was able to recognise a rare visitor, a wading bird called a greenshank, and I was very pleased with myself!”
With his traineeship due to finish in September, Philip was on the lookout for the next opportunity. When an opening for a new conservation advisor with RSPB became available, he applied and fought off stiff competition to secure the post.
“I’m delighted to be able to continue my work with the RSPB,” he said. “The charity has a very clear vision of what needs to happen to save nature and I’m excited about being a part of that going forward.”
Philip’s main areas of work will be to lead the RSPB’s Farming Together with Nature project in East County Down and its Swift City project in Belfast.
“I’m looking forward to getting out on the ground and meeting local people who are making a difference for nature,” he added.
“Small measures have a cumulative effect and, by everyone doing their bit for nature, suddenly we have conservation happening on a landscape scale.”