FSC | Field Studies Council

Field Studies Council: Bringing Environmental Understanding to All

2012 Dr David Slawson, OPAL Director - FSC Orielton

Oh dear, my FSC experience appears upside down. First, I became a life member because I had fallen in love with your identification guides to aid my poor skills whilst out walking.

Well, I was originally a plant pathologist - I could tell you what was wrong with your wheat, barley, oilseed rape or potatoes but needed help to identify the plants in hedgerows and woodland.  This was followed by too many jobs sitting behind a computer screen or in endless management meetings.  Then, I really got heavily involved in fighting tree pests and diseases and needed to quickly ‘gen up’ on identification of the trees themselves.  What better way to do it than to attend my first FCS course.  Based at the bucolic FSC Orielton over the Whitsun weekend in May 2012, I and three lively youngsters from Natural England spent four blissful days wandering around the woodlands of Pembrokeshire hanging on every word our fantastically knowledgeable and even funnier FSC tutor, Gerry Dicker. 

My great fortune continues in my current role as Director of OPAL because FSC are our closest partner.  In addition to working closely with many inspirational FSC staff, it has also meant visiting other FSC centres.  Most notable perhaps was Millport, which we used to train the new network of OPAL community scientists in April 2014.  Leaving aside all the great biology and coastal geology (raised beaches and stranded natural arches), FSC even obtained a licence and stocked a bar for the course! FSC – probably the best residential nature training courses in the World?