Drivers of Biodiversity Loss

Lecturer Charlie Main discussed our new Wildlife and Conservation Management HNC and how biodiversity loss is affecting us all.

As we prepare to launch our new HNC in Wildlife and Conservation Management our lecturer Charlie Main discussed biodiversity, climate change and the need for Green Jobs. Charlie joined UHI Outer Hebrides to deliver teaching and research in Sustainable Rural Development and is now really excited to expanding her teaching role to deliver on the new Wildlife and Conservation Management HNC course. Here she tells us a little more about herself, her research background and the new course.

“I have a broad academic and practical background covering conservation and wildlife management; marine ecology; applied environmental science; seabird monitoring; ecological survey and research.

I am so excited to see the launch of the new Wildlife and Conservation Management HNC. With widespread declines in biodiversity, our nature and environment are starting to struggle to work for us and so to adapt to the climate crisis we must work to address this. This means we must look to Green Job creation and upskilling the local workforce to deal with the nature crisis. This new course is aiming to do just that.

I originally moved to the Outer Hebrides in 2015 to run a seabird island restoration project for a partnership between the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH, now NatureSoct) and the Shiant Isles owners.

I also have experience of operational search and rescue, having worked previously as a professional firefighter, and volunteered as a Coastguard Rescue Officer. My PhD research looked at the environmental implications of a deep water oil well blowout in the Faroe Shetland Channel.

More recently I have entered the world of social science though the Seas of the Outer Hebrides (SEASOH) project: developing and facilitating engagement events for communities across the islands and fusing creative practice methods with science communication. Much of the teaching and research needed for sustainable development draws on all of this expertise, because the systems in which we live and work are connected at fundamental, biological levels as well as at human; social, cultural or economic levels.

As well as being fascinated by species, habitats and how these create “function” in the natural environment, I am also interested by what defines our human lived experience of nature, and the value that the natural environment has in enriching each element of that lived experience.

The top five drivers of biodiversity loss are all linked to human activity, globalisation and over-consumption:

              1) Habitat loss
              2) Over exploitation
              3) Pollution
              4) Climate change
              5) Invasive species

These all need to be addressed in relation to each other in order for our action to take effect for the long term.  The new course aims to link to these through the developing of topics such as: ecology and ecosystems; species and habitat survey; planning and development; rural land use, and conservation and wildlife management.

While rural areas should not be considered as silos in which to offset the pollution, species or habitat loss stemming from more populated areas elsewhere, our open countryside and coastal areas often remain the last viable reservoirs from which to recover nature. So, there is great value in the individuals and communities of rural areas being skilled and involved in conservation. And it will be essential to invest in the creation of green jobs, research and training in rural areas as this will ultimately make positive contributions towards a more sustainable world at much greater scales.

Find out more about our HNC Wildlife and Conservation Management (