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The Barn Owl Trust

Conserving the Barn Owl and its Environment

Watch us on Youtube Follow us on Twitter Join us on Facebook Live Barnowl webcam direct from a barnowl nestbox at our Owl Sanctuary

Our Work

Training for ecologists & planners


Barn Owl Ecology, Surveys & Signs

Our popular courses are primarily aimed at ecologists and planners who are required to consider Barn Owls when carrying out surveys or considering planning applications. However, we have had a wide variety of people attend over the years including students, conservation officers and voluntary Barn Owl workers. The Trust began running 'Barn Owl Ecology Surveys and Signs' (BOESS) training days in September 2005.


Our next BOESS training days will be running in July. Dates are currently being confirmed and will be available soon.


For further information please take a look at the poster to the right. It gives details on the course price, content and outcomes. Please be aware that places are limited, and we are likely to become fully booked.


Advanced Barn Owl Surveying and Mitigation

The Advanced Barn Owl Surveying and Mitigation (ABOSM) course was developed in 2011 following feedback from BOESS participants. It is specifically designed to give a more indepth knowledge of surveying and mitigation to people who have already completed the BOESS course. The course can be combined with BOESS and taken on consecutive days.


Our Advanced course is usually run every July. If you are interested in the course for the future, please e-mail so we can make a note to inform you when the next dates are set.


For course content and costs please look at the relevant poster on the right hand column.


The number of courses we run is related to the number of enquires we get so do let us know if you are interested.


What do the days involve?


Held on a farm in South Devon the BOESS course covers:

  • Barn Owl ecology
  • the birds' behaviour/annual cycle
  • sites and habitats
  • decline and conservation
  • protection and legislation
  • Wildlife and Countryside and CROW Acts
  • nest inspection licences.
  • "reading the signs" - identifying and interpreting what you might find during a site visit
  • survey and search techniques
  • mitigation

The day involves a mixture of classroom and practical work including a field trip to a local farm.


Instruction is aimed at enabling people to carry out Barn Owl site surveys safely and efficiently whilst minimising disturbance and produce good survey reports with recommendations that lead to successful mitigation and enhancement. Each candidate receives a reference for their Schedule 1 licence application as well as a certificate of attendance.


This course looks at all of the above in greater detail concentrating more on survey techniques and ideal mitigation strategies. The day has a much more practical aspect with an emphasis on self-discovery and includes 2 field trips.



"I have had extremely positive feedback from the ecologists who have attended the course. They thoroughly enjoyed the course and found it very informative. The lunch arrangements were also very popular! Just thought I would let you know that we do appreciate you running these courses and will continue to send our new staff on courses you run in the future" - Rebecca C

"Thank you for organising such a great day. I went home thoroughly inspired. The skills we learnt will definitely be useful for my work" - Kate Walls


How it all started...

The Barn Owl Trust is uniquely placed to deliver this type of training having carried out detailed site surveys, practical fieldwork, and research within this subject area for over 25 years. In 1990 the Trust began a 5-year project looking at the effects of barn conversions on Barn Owls. The results were published in a Barn Owl Trust report and a scientific paper which appeared in Bird Study. These were followed by the booklet 'Barn Owls on site - A guide for developers and planners' first published by English Nature in 1995 with a second edition in 2002. The report and booklet contained a range of recommendations for changes in Local Authority planning policies. These included a requirement that planning applications for the development of redundant rural buildings should not be considered unless accompanied by the results of a Barn Owl survey. The most radical recommendation was that provison for Barn Owls should be incorporated (as a condition of planning consent) into all rural barn conversions, even where no current evidence of Barn Owls was found. Over the intervening years an increasing number of Local Authorities throughout the UK have adopted some or all of the Trust's recommendations.

Barn Owls on Site was superceded in 2009 by "Barn Owls and Rural Planning Applications - a Guide", a BOT document, part-funded and supported by Natural England, aimed at applicants, ecologists and planners involved in rural developments where Barn Owls are or might be an issue. We are currently (2014) producing a new and completely re-worked version of the Guide to include planning policy changes such as NPPF (2012) and recent changes to Permitted Development Rights (2014).

The Barn Owl Trust is dedicated to conservation & education and does not operate a visitor centre.
Barn Owl Trust staff and volunteers
Waterleat, Ashburton, Devon TQ13 7HU
+44 (0) 1364 653026