In light of the International Day for Biological Diversity celebrated last Saturday, the 22nd of May, we have interviewed Jimmy Rutherford.
He is an Erasmus+ student from DSC Regen, working at Estación Biológica de Doñana (EBD) as a Research Assistant.
EBD is a public research institute with the mission to carry out multidisciplinary research at the highest level. This research is aimed at understanding, from an evolutionary point of view, the way in which biodiversity is generated, the way it is maintained and deteriorates, in addition to the consequences of its loss and the possibilities of its conservation and restoration.
Tell us a little bit about what you do in your work placement at EBD.
The work that I’m doing largely revolves around the National Park. We’re working on a project called Project GRAZE and we’re doing a mixture of different tasks, which include: analysing camera track footage of how grazing animals use the landscape, where they are, how many, for how long; and looking at the vegetation types and how these are likely to change under different climate change predictions – if there is an increase or decrease of rainfall, how does that affect the vegetation and how does that interact with the high levels of grazing.
Last Saturday was the International Day for Biological Diversity, and the slogan this year was “We are part of the solution”. Do you think the work that EBD does has a good impact on the preservation of biodiversity?
The research station monitors how the National Park changes over time, how the plants and animals interact, and how we can make the park more resilient in terms of management approaches under different climate change scenarios. The park itself has been around for several decades now and it’s well known for protecting and providing a haven for a number of European species that are at risk, like the Iberian lynx and the Spanish imperial eagle.
Would you like to follow this path for your career? What are your motivations?
Definitely yes, I would love to get involved with this in the future. I have been obsessed with wildlife since I was two years old, so I’m very keen to work in it. My motivations behind it are the endangered species out there – I find it extraordinary that humans often don’t take that into consideration. Without a healthy environment and biodiversity we’re in serious trouble.
How do you think the Erasmus programme will benefit you in the future?
First of all, being in Spain I’ve been able to practice the language, which is very useful because Spanish is spoken in a number of biodiverse, conservational hotspots around the world, particularly in South America. Second of all, conservation is a very competitive field to get into and I hope that working with Project GRAZE I can get more field experience with some experienced colleagues, and that will give me a further step up to additional jobs in the future.
With Jimmy’s passion for wildlife and the environment, we are thrilled that he can apply his inherent interest while working for a respected research institution like EBD. With EBD’s multidisciplinary approach to research, Jimmy is learning various practical and theoretical skills relevant to the conservation industry, aligning with Jimmy’s goal to push him in this competitive field. As the Spanish language is highly advantageous in where Jimmy wants to be, his placement in Seville allows him to practise the language regularly. We are excited for Jimmy’s remaining time with EBD and the achievement he has already made!
Would you like to read more testimonies like Jimmy’s? Read this!