Barn Owl Trust online courses for ecologists and planners

These courses are aimed primarily at ecologists who conduct Barn Owl surveys at potential development sites and the planning officers who deal with such applications. However, a wide variety of people have attended over the years including listed building specialists, wildlife crime officers, FWAG advisers, volunteer Barn Owl workers and students.

  • Barn Owl Ecology, Surveys and Signs (BOESS) – a foundation course covering Barn Owl ecology, legislation, surveying and basic mitigation. The certificate is accepted in lieu of one reference for the Class Licence application to Natural England or the Bird Survey licence application to NatureScot.
  • Advanced Barn Owl Surveying and Mitigation (ABOSM) – for people who have completed BOESS, our advanced course covers surveying, mitigation, and report preparation in much greater detail. 

Please note that these courses are based on Barn Owls in the UK, however much of the information is also applicable outside this area.

The Barn Owl Ecology, Surveys and Signs (BOESS) course

Click here for further information and prices

Our foundation BOESS course has been running since 2005, with over 1,200 participants to date. The online version is based on our face-to-face course which was a full day of presentations and site visits. We recommend allowing 10-15 hours to complete the online BOESS course.

What does the BOESS course cover?A local farm is used for practical experience - Barn Owl Trust courses
  • Barn Owl ecology
  • Decline and conservation
  • Barn Owl protection, legislation and nest inspection licensing
  • Correct survey and search techniques
  • Interpretation of Barn Owl evidence
  • Health and Safety and risk assessments
  • Planning and mitigation strategies for Barn Owls

The course includes video footage from a working farm to examine genuine wild Barn Owl nest and roost sites.

What does the BOESS course include?

Barn Owl Trust Courses Barn Boess Survey

  • A copy of the Barn Owl Conservation Handbook*
  • Footage from a genuine wild Barn Owl site
  • A certificate of completion which acts as a reference towards gaining a Schedule 1 licence
  • Comprehensive training designed by knowledgeable and experienced staff
  • Successful completion of BOESS qualifies you to take the advanced course (see ABOSM below)
  • Ecologists who attend this course are entitled to be listed in the Barn Owl Directory

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The Advanced Barn Owl Surveying and Mitigation (ABOSM) course

***Please note that the online ABOSM course is currently under development.***

ABOSM was developed in 2011 following feedback from BOESS participants who wanted to gain a more in-depth knowledge of surveying and mitigation techniques.

Available to people who have successfully completed the BOESS course.

What does the ABOSM course cover?Barn Owl Trust Courses Rushlade Barn Fieldtrip Open ABOSM

This course is designed to offer participants further training and experience through remote surveys. There are two virtual field trips – one to improve Barn Owl surveying techniques and the second to take a practical look at good Barn Owl habitat, its management, and a Wildlife Tower. These are new sites not visited on the BOESS course. Modules include: advanced survey techniques, the formulation of mitigation strategies, recommendations, and reports.

What does the ABOSM course include?
  • Comprehensive training designed by knowledgeable and experienced staff
  • Barn Owl Trust Courses Pellets Survey AbosmTwo digital field trips to genuine wild Barn Owl sites/habitat
  • A certificate of attendance
  • In-depth course content, suitable for people who have completed BOESS
  • Ongoing support from the Barn Owl Trust

This advanced course is specifically designed for past participants of BOESS.

To register your interest for ABOSM please email

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Feedback from previous attendees of Barn Owl Trust training courses:

The two day course at the barn owl trust was the best course I have ever been on. I was greeted with a friendly welcome from the staff as I arrived, then followed a wealth of knowledge from the team that was brought to life with their passion for barn owls and conservation. Both days were well structured with classroom and practical field learning, enabling you to practice what you have learnt straight away and apply it to real sites supporting barn owls. The course gave me the skills and knowledge to leave the course confident in my ability to undertake barn owl surveys and talk to prospective clients about projects that may impact barn owls. I like to thank the team again for such a great course and fantastic food.” Sam Smith, Ecologist at Mott MacDonald

“a fantastic course… I would highly recommend” – See a review of the course by Martin O’Connor – an ecologist formerly from Arbtech ecological surveyors.

“One of the best courses I’ve done in 10 years as a professional ecologist” – Gareth Parkinson, Hazelwood Conservation

“Overall, I definitely feel more confident and competent with Barn Owl surveying and would definitely recommend the course to colleagues” – Ecologist

“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” – Administration Manager of Keystone Environmental Ltd

“The combination of high quality trainers, venues, administration and supporting resources, along with thoughtful design and passionate delivery, allow the BOESS and ABOSM courses to achieve normally difficult balances among ecological, conservation and development concerns.
Underpinned by theory and grounded in practice and pragmatism, this expert training qualifies attendees as professional barn owl surveyors. It should be regarded as a mandatory industry standard for anyone whose work is related to the conservation of this species, not least because minimisation of disturbance is the guiding principal.

Furthermore, it potentially delivers enormous value to public and private end clients by equipping participants to ensure that developments comply with or exceed the requirements of legislative and policy frameworks. Practitioners graduate with the skills and “ammunition” to survey and design mitigation with professionalism and confidence. Interested amateurs can gain a whole new understanding of the species and how they may contribute to its protection. Heartily recommended.” – Dr Chris Coles, Coles Development Consulting

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