I have engaged Des Callaghan on four Atlantic oak woodland National Nature Reserves in Meirionnydd between 2013 and 2015. He was highly recommended by specialist colleagues for this work. Des carried out a full bryophyte survey of all four sites, with a brief to define long term monitoring attributes which will provide evidence of the conservation status and condition of the bryophyte flora assemblage on these NNRs.
Des is an impressive bryologist and is very familiar with the flora of a wide range of habitats. He has an intimate knowledge of the Atlantic bryophyte flora including species habitat requirements, and their distribution locally and within the UK. He has an uncanny ability to home in on species based on habitat and has turned up unexpected species in obscure places as well as finding further sites for rare and notable species. His findings have seriously impressed other local expert bryologists who have seen his work, and who have taken his reports to the site and followed his footsteps. He has a very professional approach to the work, using state of the art technology in an extremely imaginative but simple way that he has developed himself.
The survey results were presented very clearly, in a concise report which contained sufficient data for future repeat survey, annotated and extremely useful species location fixed point photographs (with patch locations on rock faces highlighted clearly). Dot maps show site distribution of target species whose distribution were used as attributes, and he also provided a full species list with grid references for locations of target and other notable species. His survey trail was plotted using GPS, and he provided helpful and useful comments on the significance of the site compared with others locally. His survey method is repeatable by others and his report contains more than enough information to enable me to write a full project description for future site managers.
Des has a full understanding of conservation management planning and common standard monitoring, and of the importance of quantified data in defining long term monitoring of the condition and conservation status of the “Feature” (the bryophyte assemblage). The attributes are all quantified with targets and lower limits, and are focussed on the species most sensitive to change. I was able to paste them into my site management plans pretty much verbatim. Des has solved my long pondered problem of producing a simple method of monitoring condition of the bryophyte assemblage of each site in a way that I and, more importantly, specialist colleagues are completely comfortable with.
Des is also an excellent teacher both in the field and indoors, keeping things practical and uncomplicated. His short courses have been an inspiration to myself and many colleagues, and have contributed to a better understanding of bryophytes by conservation staff who have attended.”