“Strengthening the biological recording networks of the
West Midlands and South East”
FSC BioLinks is an exciting new project for FSC which will bring together existing volunteers with skills in biological recording and identification, and new volunteers. The aim is to unite them in a community with a shared vision and sense of purpose by providing training and learning opportunities. This in turn will increase the quality of invertebrate species data being submitted to our national biodiversity datasets and develop individuals as more highly skilled biodiversity volunteers.
A public and sector consultation was undertaken during the development phase of the project (funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund) and involved:
- 326 individual responses to the BioLinks online survey.
- 11 public consultation workshops attended by a total of 85 participants.
- 56 stakeholder consultations, involving 85 different individuals.
- 49 responses from site managers to the BioLinks site manager survey.
The results of the FSC BioLinks consultation are presented in the FSC BioLinks Consultation Report (Jan 2017) which can be downloaded here.
The project will look for opportunities to bring biodiversity training to both South East England and the West Midlands, filling gaps in current provision and adding value to existing schemes by working as a partner with other biodiversity organisations (such as Local Environmental Records Centres, national and local recording schemes and natural history societies). The proposed FSC BioLinks Development Plan For Training Provision (Jan 2017) details how the project aims to bring a comprehensive and detailed structure to the invertebrate groups that will be the focus of the project and can be downloaded here.
BioLinks will provide courses and resources to support volunteers:
- Species identification workshops focusing on difficult and underrepresented taxa e.g. beetles and earthworms
- Use of and access to high quality resources to help build confidence and knowledge – microscopes and identification guides
- Create schemes to involve volunteers in long term surveys to help provide structured learning and meaningful projects e.g. creating a shield bug atlas for a county
BioLinks will support existing volunteers and encourage new volunteers:
- Use the citizen science BioBlitz
- approach to engage with individuals and communities who care about their local area
- Help volunteers to look more widely than their initial interest e.g. butterflies to look at plants which feed the butterflies - increase their knowledge and confidence to record and share more widely, helped by new technologies
- Provide volunteers with mentors to help build knowledge and confidence
- Learn to use local, regional and national reference collections and start to build personal collections for reference
The project application was submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund in February 2017 and is likely to begin in late 2017 if funding is successfully achieved.