Dedicated conservation volunteer Joshua Styles may be graduating this week, but he leaves behind a lasting legacy to protect Edge Hill University’s wildlife for years to come.

Joshua, from Sandbach in Cheshire, completed a three-year BSC in Ecology after discovering a taste for conservation work through volunteering for Cheshire Wildlife Trust, Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Martin Mere.

During his time at Edge Hill, Joshua created a biodiversity action plan for the campus to identify key habitats and species, give grounds staff a plan for the management of green spaces on campus that would be beneficial to wildlife, and also biodiversity improvement measures such as the placement of bat and bird boxes around campus. Joshua’s work led to the discovery of a rare Dune Helleborine orchid on campus, one of only 100 locations in the UK where the plant has been recorded.

“I have always had a strong connection with the natural world from an early age,” said Joshua. “In my teens I became a local wildlife sites surveyor for the Cheshire Wildlife Trust (CWT) which involved me surveying biodiverse sites and recording the species present, which provided CWT with valuable biological records. I also volunteered with Cheshire Rangers, assisting with practical conservation work such as coppicing, formulating a management plan for a local nature reserve, which led to an increase in the nationally protected and rare grass snake, and recording species on Cheshire East Council’s local wildlife sites.”

Joshua has earned various awards in recognition of his hard work at Edge Hill. As well as two awards for academic achievement, he won an Excellence Scholarship for his commitment to volunteering, which he continued alongside his studies. He has also been awarded a prestigious Chancellor’s Scholarship in recognition of his contribution to the University.

Thanks to his outstanding skills and experience in the environmental sector, Joshua secured a part-time job as an ecological consultant before he even graduated, and he plans to increase his hours now he’s not studying.

“Doing my degree has been an absolutely fantastic experience,” he added. “I made a lot of contacts in the sector I wanted to work in and I was supported by amazing tutors.”

To find out more about studying Ecology, click here.