Managing Wildlife in the Historic Environment with Deborah Evans

Ref: B3E13286

Location: West Dean
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About this course

Gain an understanding of the range of protected plant and animal species found on and in historic buildings and their sites. Obtain guidance on current wildlife protection legislation, the importance of biodiversity, and implications for the management of historic sites including survey and work windows and potential funding streams.

Flora and fauna contribute to the aesthetic appeal of sites and are valuable educational resources. The course looks at flora and fauna of historic structures and their settings, how to use vegetation to protect exposed, ruined wall tops ("soft capping"), and how to cope with "problem" and invasive species. The course includes illustrated lectures and local site visits within the West Dean estate including the Devil's Jumps Scheduled Monument and Local Nature Reserve, the environs of the private Victorian railway station and West Dean Gardens. It also includes a bat walk within the estate to appreciate the range of species and habitats found within the local area.

This course is intended for anyone engaged in the conservation and management of historic buildings and sites, from building professionals, architects, surveyors, engineers, to contractors and site managers.

Course Description

The course will provide key knowledge and tools for the practical and appropriate management of historic buildings and sites.  Subjects will include: 

  • protected species
  • types of survey and their timeframes
  • priority habitats, including trees and how these interact with monuments and structures
  • the control of “problem” and invasive plant and animal species

The implications of legislation for the management of historic buildings and sites and the broader contextual issues of climate change and adaptation will be core to the teaching with speakers sharing their own specific professional experience.  The course will offer an introduction to current and future agri- environmental grant schemes with capacity to benefit the historic environment and a presentation on historic designed landscapes and how they can help glue built and natural environment considerations together.


Please note that minor amendments may be required to content (primarily sequence and duration of lectures).  These will be confirmed in the final timetable to be issued a fortnight prior to commencement of the course. 

Day 1, Monday 3 June 2024

2.00pm – 2.30pm  Arrive, course registration and check-in
2.45pm – 3.30pm  Welcome and introduction to the course and other delegates (with Course Leader)
3.30pm – 4.00pm  Tea and coffee
4.00pm – 5.00pm  Lecture.  Introduction to caring for the ecological significance of heritage buildings and their sites 
7.00pm – 8.00pm  Dinner
8.00pm – 9.00pm  Evening lecture. The legislative framework: your biodiversity responsibilities
Day 2, Tuesday 4 June 2024

9.00am – 12.30pm Lecture sessions (with tea and coffee break mid-morning)
Lecture.  Protected species considerations for scheduled monument management   
Lecture.  Key problem species and how to manage them 
12.30pm – 1.30pm Lunch 
1.30pm  - 4.00pm Lectures (with tea and coffee break mid-afternoon)
Lecture.  Climate change and implications for site management
Lecture.  Bats in historic buildings
7.00pm – 8.00pm  Dinner
8.00pm – 9.00pm  Evening site visit. Bat walk on the West Dean Estate.
Day 3, Wednesday 5 June 2024

9.00am  - 12.30pm  Lecture sessions (with tea and coffee break mid-morning)
Lecture.  Trees in the historic environment and trees and scheduled monuments.
Lecture.  Grassland ecology and management
12.30pm – 1.30pm  Lunch 
1.30pm – 2.30pm  Lecture:  Conserving ruined masonry walls:  Historic England research into the use of soft capping and ivy.  Includes a visit to the West Dean ruinette.
2.30pm – 5.30pm  Site visits on West Dean Estate:  Devil's Jumps – Five Bell Barrows (Scheduled Monument and Local Nature Reserve)  illustrating different grassland flora and scrub and management techniques;  West Dean station – a partly ruined private Victorian station with ornamental structures and eroded brick, concrete and stonework illustrating a wide range of micro-habitats for flora and fauna and opportunities for development and increased public access.
Day 4, Thursday 6 June 2024

9.00am  - 12.30pm Lecture sessions (with tea and coffee break mid-morning)
Lecture.  Natural England’s role and the benefits of agri-environment schemes for the historic environment – moving towards Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) and 25 Year Environment Plan 
Lecture.  Historic designed landscapes as the glue.
12.30pm – 1.30pm  Lunch 
Practical Exercise.  Ecological Assessment, based on structures within the West Dean Estate  
3.30pm  Issue certificates and depart


Day 1

14.00 – 14.30 Arrive, course registration and check-in
19.00 Dinner
20.00 Evening Lecture
Day 2   

9.00 – 16.00 Lecture Sessions 
19.00 Dinner
20.00 – 21.00  Evening Visit
Day 3   

9.00 – 14.30 Lecture Sessions 
14.30 – 17.30  Site Visits
Day 4  

9.00 – 12.30 Lecture Sessions 
15.30  Issue Certificates and Depart

Course Materials

What students need to bring

Please remember to bring walking shoes/boots, waterproof clothing, a torch and umbrella for the Bat Walk and site visits.


Deborah Evans

Deborah Evans

Deborah is a Chartered Landscape Architect, historian and horticulturalist with extensive and specialist experience in the public and private sectors. She established her own consultancy, DE Landscape & Heritage Ltd, in July 2015.  Between 2006 – 2014 Deborah worked for English Heritage (now Historic England) as Landscape Architect for the East Midlands and East of England regions, where she acted as the organization’s expert advisor for the historic environment on a range of issues, including advice to HMRC, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Natural England. 


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.