Petra Billings PhD CEcol MCIEEM
Petra Billings is an experienced Chartered Ecologist based in West Sussex. Her career began as an ecology tutor at Flatford Mill Field Centre in Suffolk. After achieving her doctorate at the University of Bristol, she worked as a Habitat Surveyor for the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust before moving to Sussex. There, for many years, she developed and ran courses in Countryside Management at Plumpton College, Lewes. She taught a range of ecological subjects to degree level including Conservation Management, Soil Science, Botany and Habitat Management Planning. Graduates of her courses have gone on to successful careers in conservation with, for example, the National Trust, Sussex Wildlife Trust, Bumblebee Conservation, the South Downs National Park Authority and Natural England.
West Weald Landscape Project
In recent years Petra has led the West Weald Landscape Project. This was a partnership project led by Sussex Wildlife Trust. It was a project about connecting up the countryside for wildlife and focused on 'landscape-scale conservation' through working with landowners. Landowner advice was supported by habitat surveys of woodlands, meadows, hedges, ponds and orchards. A small grant scheme supported the restoration and creation of traditional orchards,wildflower meadows and many miles of new hedges across the West Weald. Under Petra's leadership, the project became a flagship conservation project in the UK and won national awards with CIEEM (Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management).
Ancient Woodland Restoration Project
Since 2013 Petra has worked with the Woodland Trust on their Ancient Woodland Restoration Project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. This work helps the owners of ancient woodlands that have been planted with conifers by offering advice and support for restoring these precious woodlands.
In January 2016, Petra set up her own independent consultancy. She undertakes a variety of land management work, including writing Forestry Commission-approved woodland management plans, Countryside Stewardship grant applications (Mid Tier and Higher Tier), woodland creation plans and carrying out general ecological surveys. She also runs courses on woodland ecology, downland ecology, habitat mapping and general wildlife and is on the Woodland Trust's South-East Panels of Consultants for ancient woodland restoration and for woodland creation.