Photo: copyright BRERC

Volunteer at BRERC

Photo: BRERC survey (John Aldridge/BRERC)

Where have all the flowers gone?

Are you concerned about what's happening to our wildlife and the habitats that support them? Did you know that over the past 60 years the UK has lost over 98% of its hay meadows and wildlife rich grasslands? If you are interested in wildlife and the countryside, figures like these are worrying.

How do you know what's happening to our wildlife?

So how do we know that declines like these are happening, and how do we know that conservation measures designed to protect wildlife are working? Organisations like the Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre (BRERC) collect wildlife and habitat information from a wide variety of sources and feed it into a national database organised by the National Biodiversity Network (NBN). This database contains over 100 million records and is used by researchers and members of the public to monitor how wildlife populations and habitats change over time.

How can I help?

Processing all this information is a colossal undertaking, so why not make a huge difference to wildlife research by joining our dedicated team of office-based volunteers. Whether you want to improve your office skills, increase your knowledge of local wildlife, or just meet up with like-minded people, your help is vital.

What volunteer roles do you have?

We urgently need keen volunteers to fill a variety of roles, so whatever your level of ability there's bound to be something for you. Don't worry if you haven't got all the skills needed as training will be provide where necessary. Here's a list of some of our roles:

Data logger: Keeping track of all the information submitted to us is essential. This role involves logging details of all the emails, documents and reports about wildlife sent to us, as well as contacting individuals to thank them for their submissions.

Data assessor: It is vital that the data sent to us is processed correctly. Our data assessors evaluate each document carefully to identify important species and habitats ready for entry into our computer systems. Some wildlife and ecological knowledge is helpful. Long term (6 month plus) opportunities available

Data entry: With around 200,000 records coming in each year we always need help with entering information into our database - it isn't always a straightforward job and is a good introduction to the work of a records centre. An interest in wildlife is helpful and full training in using our database will be given.

Spreadsheet data entry: If you think you would be comfortable handling 100s of records at a time then this is for you! Large volumes of data come into the office via spreadsheets and we need help to validate, verify and process it before it can be loaded onto our database. We can give training in all areas, but a familiarity with spreadsheets and databases would be useful.

GIS volunteer: Habitat information, such as the location of hedgerows or woodlands, is best recorded on electronic maps. GIS volunteers use a specialist software package called Mapinfo Professional to do this work. In addition, the software is used to provide information about species, sites and habitats to environmental consultants, wildlife recording groups and members of the public. Previous experience of GIS is an advantage. Long term (6 month plus) opportunities available

Admin: We have many administrative tasks that need doing. Examples are cataloguing our collection of images, updating the library catalogue, general filing and help with mailings. Database and spreadsheet skills are useful but again, full training will be given. Long term (6 month plus) opportunities available

Where are you based?

Most of our volunteer roles are based at our main office in St Nicholas' Church, St Nicholas Street, Bristol. We also have a satellite office at Yatton which is open for one day a week. If you have a computer, some of our roles may allow you to work from home.

How often do I need to volunteer?

The amount of time our volunteers commit to us ranges from just a few hours a month to several days per week. So whatever your availability you can make a valuable contribution to our work. Some of our roles require training and for these we prefer volunteers to commit themselves to one day per week (and we ask you to be available for a minimum 2 months).

How long will my volunteering role last?

The longer you spend with us, the more you will learn and the more you will get out of volunteering. Due to the training necessary for some of the tasks, most of our roles lend themselves well to long term opportunities of six months or more. We welcome shorter term volunteers too, with roles tailored to their available time.

How do I find out more?

If you want to find out more about our work, please visit our website www.brerc.org.uk. If you would like further information about any of our volunteer roles, or would like to have an informal chat with a member of staff, please ring Daniel Marshall on 0117 9349833 or send an email via our Contacts page.

Any agreement to volunteer reflects the hopes and intentions of the volunteer and of BRERC, and is not contractually binding in any way for either party.

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Page last updated: 6th July 2016
Contact BRERC: St Nicholas Church, St Nicholas Street, Bristol BS1 1UE | Phone 0117 9349833