Why ecosystem services?

I’m from the exotic south of England, Hertfordshire to be more precise. I moved a little further north to Manchester to study Geography for my undergrad. After a couple of years of working and travelling I decided to move even further north to Edinburgh to study Ecosystem Services for my masters.

Welcome week trip to Bass Rock

You are often expected to take one of two sides in Geography, human or physical. While I often claimed to be a physical geographer taking more interest in natural disasters and ecosystems rather than city planning and therapeutic landscapes, I found myself trying to straddle the best of both worlds. My interests were in learning how the Earth’s systems worked but I appreciated how humans were both influencing and being influenced by these processes. I knew I wanted to study this further, making sure I got the physical and the human, the theory and the practical application. Unique to GeoSciences at Edinburgh, I found that the MSc in Ecosystem Services provided the perfect mix of scientific and analytical assessment of ecological processes as well as exploration of the social aspects of management and valuation of the services ecosystems provide.

Sussing out our study site, Yellow Craig

Due to a number of reasons I decided that part time study would suit me best. This meant that my first year would consist solely of the compulsory courses, Ecology of Ecosystem Services and Analysing the Environment in semester one, and Ecosystem Services Values and the Analysing the Environment field work in semester two. I can’t yet comment on semester two but if it’s anything like semester one it’s something to look forward too. Ecosystem Services as a programme is small, with a total of 10 students (including full and part time students). This has worked out well, not only in getting to know my personal tutor and programme organiser but also in course size. Analysing the Environment had only six students, making the experience extremely personal and worthwhile. Ecology of Ecosystem Services had closer to 30 students but still allowed for small group discussion, debates and projects. Both courses have included aspects of field work, exploring green spaces within Edinburgh as well as computer lab sessions exploring data analysis and models. Ecosystem Services Values acts as a sister course to Ecology of Ecosystem Services so I look forward to building on the social aspects introduced in semester one.

While I’ve only completed the first quarter of my time here, so far I’m incredibly happy with the programme, with it ticking all the boxes I had hoped for. I’ll get back to you on how semester two and beyond compares.

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