What’s on : Lectures

Learning to Protect Nature: Conservation, Education and the tansy beetle

4 Jun 2019
Start time
7:30 PM
Tempest Anderson Hall
Dr Deirdre Rooney and Caroline Howard, Askham Bryan College

Event Information

Learning to Protect Nature: Conservation, Education and the tansy beetle

Dr Deirdre Rooney, Head of Higher Education & Caroline Howard, Wildlife Park Manager, Askham Bryan College

Conservation of natural populations, habitats and species has become increasingly important as we continue to put pressures on our natural environment. Conservation takes many forms, in-situ and ex-situ, to achieve local, national and global outcomes. Education is key however, and arguably the most important link connecting a range of stakeholders, from citizens to conservationists, primary school children to politicians. Learning to protect nature is embedded in many aspects of our work at Askham Bryan College, from educating students, schoolchildren and the wider public, to hands-on conservation activities such as population surveys, breeding schemes, and ex-situ conservation within our zoo and wildlife park. We will explain how our work with the locally endangered tansy beetle has helped to embed our conservation priorities, and we will present examples of other conservation efforts.

At this lecture we will announce the first winners of the Malden Owen Askham Bryan Awards

This lecture will be preceded by the Annual General Meeting of the Society at 6.45pm

Tansy Beetle image credit: Geoff Oxford

Member’s report

“Can somebody please sort out that patch of weeds up by the farm?” was the cry of a member of Askham Bryan’s Senior Management Team. The “patch of weeds” in question was York’s first Tansy Beetle Ark – a purpose-planted patch of tansy housing a population of these rare beetles collected from the increasingly flood-prone banks of the Ouse. They are currently known on only three sites in the UK, the Ouse population being by far the largest, a situation which risks the loss of the species. Creating an ark was wise, but it was a shot in dark because no-one knew if the presence of water was necessary to their breeding cycle. Fortunately, it is not: the beetles are flourishing and the college has now created a second ark in the Wildlife Park, where the tansy beetles and other invertebrates are used to educate the public on their importance to a healthy ecology. They are not “charismatic megafauna” (like pandas); they are, however, charming iridescent green creatures with their own appeal to the young visitors who represent the future of environmental protection. Askham Bryan’s tansy beetles are playing an important part in spreading the message that an understanding of species interdependence is key to the future of a healthy planet.

Felicity Hurst