The use of spatial data and geographic information (GI) in evidence-based policy and decision making has seen a rapid expansion in recent years. Ecological and conservation organisations such as rivers/fisheries trusts, wildlife trusts and many others are increasingly being required to collate, manage and interpret spatial data and evidence in their work.
As a result of this increased demand for high quality spatial data and evidence, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have become a powerful and flexible tool used by environmental practitioners engaged in a wide array of work areas. A GIS provides them with a powerful and flexible tool for the creation and management of spatial data, the presentation of accurate and effective maps, and for the production of spatial evidence to inform conservation strategy development and target intervention measures.
The best way to encourage and facilitate the use of the spatial data in GIS applications is to train practitioners to develop their GIS and spatial data skills and, in so doing, build capability in their organisations. Many rivers/fisheries trust staff are technical experts in their fields and often highly ‘geographically literate’, but they do still require specialised, application-based GIS training to become skilled GIS technicians who can then incorporate the robust use of GIS into their day-to-day work.
To meet the growing demand for GIS training, the Westcountry Rivers Trust has worked with a number of other Catchment-Based Approach organisations to develop and deliver a programme of GIS, Data & Evidence Training and an online GIS training resource to support the work of CaBA hosts and partner organisations. Funded by the Catchment Partnership Fund (EA/Defra) WRT held a 2-day Introduction to GIS for CaBA course (30 trainees), a 2-day Advanced GIS for CaBA course (35 trainees) and a 1-day Data to Information for CaBA Workshop (40+ delegates), which ran consecutively from 31st March to 4th April 2014 at the University of Reading.[wpdm_package id=’452′]
More information can be found at: http://ecospatial.info/?page_id=155 (CaBA GIS Training Courses) and http://catchmentbasedapproach.org/best-practice/data/data-information-workshop (CaBA Data to Information Workshop).
The CPF funding was also intended to assist in the development of online GIS training resources. So far, over 20 video demonstrations have been created and the web resource is well under construction (http://ecospatial.info/).