Volunteer training and support for recorders to record invertebrates. Data collated and fed into Pantheon to undertake site quality assessments.
There's a recognised lack of field/identification (ID) skills within the UK biodiversity sector, with a generational skills gap forming that threatens the future resilience of it's biological recording network. Some taxa are particularly well studied, while other groups, such as invertebrates, are often neglected due to the difficulty in identifying species.
The FSC BioLinks project aims to improve the record holdings of a selection of difficult-to-identify under-recorded invertebrate taxa in both the short & long terms by providing a range of ID training courses & recording events. These are designed to improve recorder knowledge/skill/motivation/confidence & form part of a single structured training plan, providing learning opportunities for new & invertebrate recorders–at all competency levels.
Project activities are open to all (though has a targeted approach to attracting young adults age 18-25 to ensure that the generational skills gap in field & ID skills is addressed). This includes measures such as utilising a range of social media platforms & their targeted advertising features, as well as ensuring that the career value of acquiring field & identification skills is showcased.
100+ training courses/events will be delivered across the West Midlands & South East, per year, in partnership with various existing recording schemes, env education centres, Local Environmental Record Centres, natural history societies - with the aim of integrating into existing networks.
• 1.23 million GBP HLF Grant
• 40,000 GBP Esme Fairbairn grant
• 120,000 GBP FSC funds
• 210,000 non-cash contributions (including volunteer time).
Evidence of success
The project is 1 year into a 5-year duration, so evidence of success is limited. However, the 5-year project was preceded by an in-depth 1-year consultation which set the ground work & won sector-wide support & praise – particularly for the publicly available Development Plan For Training Provision.
At the end of year 1, the project has already exceeded participant targets, with courses proving popular & participants already beginning to undertake species recording of the project focus species.
Attracting Young Adults (18-25-year olds) has been the biggest challenge to date. Actions are currently in progress to tackle this, which include using age-targeted advertising through social media and working with existing young naturalists to reach this hard-to-reach demographic.
Potential for learning or transfer
The FSC BioLinks project has much potential for transfer, building capacity in other organisations and regions. Many aspects of the project lend themselves to replication in other regions, as the problems being addressed are likely to be present elsewhere. Using the frameworks established, lessons can be transferred and replicated to fill skills gaps, where they exist.
Successes and challenges will be presented at sector conferences and through publishing of a variety of guidance. 2 documents from the consultation phase are already publicly available (i) FSC BioLinks Consultation Report (ii) FSC BioLinks Development Plan For Training Provision. Furthermore, the project has collated & published previous FSC Biodiversity project evaluation reports on it's website in order to share learning from the projects that preceded & informed the current project.
The FSC BioLinks project is a developmental project & methods/products will evolve, culminating in a Legacy & Resilience Conferenc
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