Jess Williams

Jess Williams


I have a background in conservation and ecology, completing BSc in Natural Science in 2014 and an MSc in Conservation Science in 2016 which had a strong focus on working at the socio-ecological interface to tackle some of the grand challenges we face globally in conservation. Since completing my MSc I have worked on restoration of upland blanket bog and lowland rivers, with Natural England and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust respectively. I have an interest in a diverse range of subjects, and past research has included looking at developing a framework for the conservation of the critically endangered Indian gharial, and the social and ethical implications of large carnivore reintroductions. A recurring theme throughout my research is the desire to address landscape scale issues through inclusion of all stakeholders and interdisciplinary study.

Research interests

Upland landscapes are generally classed as those areas found above 300m, in England the majority of these areas are found in the north of the country, but they also include Dartmoor and Exmoor in the south-west. A characteristic habitat found in many parts of the uplands is blanket bog, the formation of which began between 5000-6000 years ago, blanket bog is specifically classified as being on peat with a depth of over 40cm, it is of immense value as a carbon store and in maintaining water quality. Blanket bog has a highly specialised community of vascular plants and bryophytes which are adapted to tolerate the highly acidic and ombrotrophic conditions found there.

The habitat is subject to a range of pressures from human activities which require access be that grouse estate management, livestock farming or leisure activities there are increasing numbers of tracks and paths with various surfaces being added to the landscapes. At present there exists only limited research into how the addition, and also removal, of these access routes influences both the physical properties of blanket bog such as hydrology and the make-up of the vegetation community. Recent advances in our understanding of blanket peatland biogeochemistry and ecohydrological functioning have given rise to some novel approaches to road construction, this includes the use of plastic mesh. My research is a two pronged study of plastic mesh roads: Firstly, plastic mesh is added for a relatively short time period before it is removed, this avenue of research,therefore, deals with the recovery of ecohydrological processes in the post-removal period. Secondly, I will be considering the potential for these tracks to break down and produce micro and macroplastic pollution under field conditions. 

Further resources and information on the uplands can be found here;

Funding: NERC Industrial CASE studentship with Natural England



  • MSc Conservation Science, Imperial College London (2016)
  • BSc (Hons) Natural Science, Open University (2014)