FSC | Field Studies Council

Field Studies Council: Bringing Environmental Understanding to All

Biodiversity Fellows

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Why was Biodiversity Fellows needed?

Volunteer biological recorders are critical to maintaining the flow of species data. This data is required for a number of key uses such as conservation, planning and research. The increasing demand for information on biodiversity, especially for use at a local level, means we need to do far more than just maintain past capability; we need to increase the numbers. geographical coverage and taxonomic scope of biological recorders. Existing biological recorders can become tomorrow's experts through improving skills in critical taxa.

In order to meet the needs of today, and demands of the future, we need to continue to grow new experts and stimulate the enthusiasm of volunteers to adopt taxon groups and build (and share) their expertise. With support from Defra (va the Defra fund for Biodiversity in the Voluntary Sector) and Natural England, FSC are set up a sustainable approach to deliver skills training to address these needs. This was branded FSC Biodiversity Fellows, or FSC bio.fell for short.

What's new?

Many years of experience have showed us that existing training courses often attract high numbers of volunteers but these new potential recorders do not always follow through to become active data contributors. Motivation and encouragement of volunteers post training is clearly an issue. Therefore bio.fell offered a different approach. As well as a series of traditional face-to-face training courses it offered a package of supporting resources and mentoring to aid and encourage the transition from enthusiastic volunteer to active recorder.

What were our aims?

FSC bio.fell aimed to;

  • provide a sustainable supporting network for volunteers to help build capacity within the recording sector at all levels
  • increase capacity for under-recorded groups by increasing volunteer numbers and expertise
  • optimise the use of existing volunteers
  • increase the number of new recorders
  • increase the number of records submitted and shared for under-recorded groups
  • demonstrate how these can be most easily shared through the NBN Gateway

How did bio.fell deliver?

FSC worked in partnership with a large number of National Recording Schemes and Societies to offer a series of funded one day courses (free to registered bio.fells) and a number of bursaries for residential courses supported by;

  • expert tuition from regional, national and international experts
  • active mentoring and post-course support by tutors
  • trialling the use of webinars for several groups
  • training in online recording
  • access to online resources

These courses were held at FSC centres in England, plus a range of other sites, and included both  field training and lab sessions.

FSC Biodiversity Fellows was funded by the Defra Fund for Biodiversity in the Voluntary Sector administered by Natural England.

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