Building conservation masterclass

Managing Wildlife in the Historic Environment with Alan Cathersides

Ref: B3E09129

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About this course

This course is intended for architects, surveyors, contractors and site managers. The teaching is divided between illustrated lectures and local site visits to a hill fort, church and ruined priory and unique access to the West Dean bat tunnel accompanied by a licensed bat handler.

The course aims to give an understanding of the plants and animals which are found on and in historic buildings and sites and the implications of legislation in their management. These are not only important for wildlife conservation but they also contribute to the aesthetic appeal of sites and are a valuable educational resource. While some may be damaging to masonry or artefacts, others are benign and might actually give protection from erosion or decay.

The course will look at the flora and fauna of historic structures and their surroundings, the use of vegetation to protect ruined wall-tops ('soft capping') and the implications for site management with special reference to bats and their conservation requirements.

Course Description

Day 1

15:00 Lecture. Introduction to course

Lecture. Wildlife, Health and Safety, Pesticide and other legislation and the implications for historic site management

Introduction to reptiles and amphibians

Day 2

Lecture: Trees on monuments

Lecture: The flora of historic walls - bryophytes and lichens

Lecture: Climbing plants on walls

Lecture: Bats in historic buildings

Evening Visit: Bat Walk on the West Dean Estate, including a visit to a hibernation site in a disused railway tunnel

Day 3

Lecture: The flora of historic walls - flowering plants and ferns

Lecture: Grassland ecology and management

Visit. The Trundle - An Iron Age hill fort illustrating different grassland flora and management techniques

Boxgrove Priory - a partly ruined medieval priory and functioning parish church illustrating a wide range of micro-habitats for flora

Evening Lecture: The insect fauna of historic walls

Day 4

Lecture: Soft-capping: Using vegetation to protect wall tops

Lecture: Dealing with problem species on monuments

Project: A group desk exercise, followed by feedback

Final questions, event evaluation and close

16.00 Issue of certificates and depart.


Timetable for courses more than one day in length

(The tutor may make slight variations, please see Course Description above for any timing variations)

Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

Course Materials

What students need to bring

  • Please remember to bring walking shoes/boots, a torch and umbrella for the Bat Walk.


Alan Cathersides

BCM Course Leader

Alan Cathersides has spent 40 years working in historic landscapes, for the last 27 with English Heritage/Historic England and is currently a National Landscape Advisor with Historic England. He is particularly interested in the management of historic sites to benefit both their historic and natural interest.


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

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