Testing a competency framework for biodiversity data collection

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EuroGIS-GPS: Testing a competency framework for biodiversity data collection
No. UK/11/LLP-LdV/TOI-463
Project duration: 24 months (01/10/2011 – 30/09/2013)
Project co-ordinator:
Ambios Ltd, UK
Mammal Research Institute, Poland
The Barn Owl Foundation, Hungary
Hedmark University College, Norway
University of Evora, Portugal
Lantra, UK


The European Habitats Directive (1992) is the cornerstone of Europe’s nature conservation policy, protecting threatened Natura 2000 sites and endangered species and habitats. Recording the location of the latter is central to the Directive and is used to measure the rate of climate change. Wildlife does not recognize borders and European scale information shows trends over time.
Countryside Rangers (managers of biodiversity and people for local authorities, public and private estates and non-government organisations [NGOs]) and volunteers collect and archive this information. Technology offers the integration of hand held Global Positioning Systems (GPS) with Geographic Information System (GIS) software. Training and qualifications for practitioners are non-standard across Europe and do not link the two technologies.

The aim of this project is to transfer competencies and qualifications, adapt them to a common set of standards and then test these with Countryside Rangers/Volunteers.

This project will analyze existing training programs and integrate these with qualifications for delivery across all 5 partner countries. Trainers and Trainees will be involved in the co-creation (with professional practitioners) of learning content which will link the delivery of GPS & GIS competencies. A pathway leading to a European qualification will be identified. Innovative webinar (online seminar) technology will support learners. An existing local GIS-GPS qualification (Open College Network) exists (written by Ambios) and there is a national qualification (Qualifications and Credit Framework [QCF ITQ]) that accredits the use of specialist software. Both will be transferred and adapted to suit the needs of partner countries. This supports the European LIFEWATCH plan which identified the need for biodiversity data handling training packages.

The project will deliver training packages to Countryside Rangers/Volunteers (prospective and existing) enabling them to cascade their learning to co-workers (extending the reach of the project) – and directly use their new skills in the workplace with immediate effect.

The partnership brings together educational, ecological and technology professionals from not-for-profit, research institutes, universities and charities. The partnership is new with all having worked separately with Ambios on other European Lifelong Learning Projects (LLPs).

Outputs: adapted and tested European standard competency framework for GIS-GPS, a Trainer manual to assist trainers in their delivery, a set of learning resources and quality assurance procedures to support QCF delivery;
approval as a LIFEWATCH development project. Impact: common occupational standards will mean that countries will collect biodiversity data in the same way, more accurately, allowing ecological datasets to be compiled and shared at a European level. The project will increase the number of competent workers to the environmental sector. An improved vocational skills base in an area important to our collective futures will add value to the economy of the EU.

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