Tag Archives: ecologists


Ecological Mapping Courses 2015

I’ll be running three training courses in ecological mapping this spring:

– QGIS for Ecologists and Conservation Practitioners

– Mapping Biological Records with QGIS

– Introduction to Habitat Mapping


QGIS for Ecologists and Conservation Practitioners

Date: Thursday 23rd – Friday 24th April 2015

Venue: Hodson Bay Hotel, Athlone, Co. Westmeath

Cost: approx. €243 for CIEEM members, €486 for non-members*

Registration: http://www.cieem.net/events/800/qgis-for-ecologists-and-conservation-practitioners

QGIS screengrabThis is the third year for this course, which I have successfully run for the Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Management. The course is for ecologists and environmental managers who wish to learn how to incorporate GIS into their working practices, but who lack the means or institutional support to avail of the more expensive, commercial GIS packages.

At the end of the course, participants will be able to :

– Outline basic GIS concepts

– Display and query ecological data using QGIS

– Create (digitise) species records and habitat mapping data

– Prepare maps for inclusion in reports

The course will begin with an introduction to GIS. Basic GIS concepts will be explained and explored.   The open source GIS that will be used will be QGIS, powerful, open source, fully functional GIS software. The QGIS interface will be introduced and participants will learn how to open, explore and query data layers. Creating ecological data layers with QGIS will be covered, including point records of species and habitat mapping. Attribute table creation and management will also be covered. Easily available environmental data sources will be explored (e.g. open source base mapping and aerial photos, Natura 2000 site boundaries, river basins, soils & geology). Best practice in GIS data creation will be emphasised, including metadata. How to prepare maps for presentation in reports using QGIS will be introduced.

This course covers mapping habitat (or other) polygons, lines and points, as well as creating maps and other tasks. The National Biodiversity Data Centre course below focuses on mapping species point records. This course is a two-day course and will therefore cover more material than the National Biodiversity Data Centre course. If your main interest is using QGIS for a wide range of ecological mapping tasks, this course is for you.

* Course rates are payable in pounds sterling £180 members / £360 non-members. Part of the course fee is donated to the QGIS Project.

 Mapping Biological Records with QGIS

Date: Wednesday 4th March 2015

Venue: National Biodiversity Data Centre, Waterford

Cost: €50*

Registration: http://www.biodiversityireland.ie/events/mapping-biological-records-with-qgis-advanced/

The tiny liverwort Cladopodiella fluitans dwarfed by mighty Sphagnum mosses

This course is for biological recorders, including both amateur and professional ecologists, who want to learn to use QGIS as a tool to assist in biological recording.

At the end of the course, participants will be able to :

– Explain what GIS is and describe what makes up a typical GIS

– Use the QGIS interface to explore spatial data

– Create a GIS layer from a species record spreadsheet

– Find and use freely available environmental data and maps

– Explore species distributions using hectad (10km square) grids

QGIS is powerful, open source, fully functional GIS software. It can be very useful in managing, exploring and displaying biological records. Workshop participants will be introduced to QGIS and how it can be used to perform some typical tasks, such as mapping biological records and exploring species distributions in conjunction with other environmental data. No previous experience of GIS is necessary.

This focuses on mapping species point records, whereas the CIEEM course covers mapping habitat (or other) polygons, lines and points. This course is a one-day course and will therefore cover less material than the CIEEM course. If your main interest is mapping species records and exploring them in the context of other environmental data, this course is for you.

* Part of the course fee is donated to the QGIS Project.

 Introduction to Habitat Mapping

Date: Wednesday 11th March 2015

Venue: National Biodiversity Data Centre, Waterford

Cost: €50

Registration:  http://www.biodiversityireland.ie/events/introduction-to-habitat-mapping/

Best Practice GuidanceThis course is for early-career, graduate and student ecologists who want to learn to survey and map habitats in the field.

At the end of the course, participants will be able to :

– Compare and contrast the main habitat classification systems used in Ireland

– Describe how to plan a habitat survey in light of the project objectives

– Evaluate different desktop sources of habitat data

– Demonstrate how to survey and map habitats in the field

– Identify the limitations of habitat survey and outline possible next steps

A habitat survey is a fundamental method for gathering data about the ecology of a site. The objective of a habitat survey is to produce a habitat map – a clear spatial record of what habitats are present in a site and where they are. The workshop will provide an introduction on how to carry out the desk-based and field-based components of a habitat survey. It will be based on the Heritage Council’s Best Practice Guidance for Habitat Survey and Mapping. This course is GIS and computer-free.


Published Date: 17th February 2015
Category: General
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Awarded Chartered Ecologist Status

George Smith in Tremont, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee USA

George F Smith PhD CEcol MCIEEM in the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

I’ve just been awarded Chartered Ecologist status by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).  This means that I “work in accordance with high standards of professional conduct”.  Also, my “advice and practice is based on a fundamental understanding of ecology and the critical evaluation of scientific evidence” and I “communicate complex ecological concepts and ideas confidently and effectively to a wide range of audiences”.  When the CIEEM website is updated, I’ll be listed on the online Register.  All very exciting!

CIEEM is the main professional society for ecologists in Ireland.  One of its main goals is to uphold professional standards for ecologists and to promote best practice.  CIEEM received chartered status in April 2013, and applications for Chartered Ecologist status were only recently opened for all members.  My spies tell me that right now I am one of only three Chartered Ecologists in Ireland, though in time there will be several more.

Chartered Ecologists must demonstrate that they achieve a high level of competence in several areas of ecology and environmental management.  A well-structured competency framework is used by CIEEM to evaluate the abilities of applicants.  The areas of competency must include expertise in interpretation and reporting scientific evidence, good communication skills, and a high standard of professional conduct.  Other areas where I showed a high level of competence included habitat survey and evaluation, ecosystem management, ecological impact assessment, and data analysis.

CIEEM’s recognition of Chartered Ecologists should greatly improve the practice of ecology and environmental management in Ireland.  Clients and others reviewing the work of Chartered Ecologists will have the confidence that it has been done by an experienced professional.  Having chartered members places ecologists on a similar footing to other professions, such as engineers.  Ecologists will have a clear goal for professional development, and the competency framework will provide a good yardstick for achieving it.  The application is arduous and the interview is intimidating, as they should be.  But all the same I’d encourage all CIEEM members to apply when you’re ready.


Published Date: 17th January 2014
Category: General
Tags: ,