A number of training courses are planned that will provide a sound background to undertaking practical environmental management, these include  biological surveying techniques, Policy & Climate change, conservation skills, GIS/GPS training, bush craft and walking in the hills training.

 

The Belfast Hills varied habitats provide a refuge to many different species, including a number of NI priority species that have been identified as needing special protection. Their location close to the urban population makes them a convenient training ground whereby people can be taught various means of biological surveying.  This training is very important in raising people’s awareness of what is out there and how they can get involved.

 

Geographical Information System (GIS) is a system for storing and manipulating geographical information on computer. Only very specialist and very expensive GIS training courses are available through ESRI. These courses generally look at the whole range of packages/tools available in GIS, most of which are not relevant to that needed for biological mapping, so create more confusion than clarity.  There is a need to train people how to use GIS and the corresponding GPS handheld unit to undertake important biological surveying. GIS and GPS use is commonly required in environmental posts, so experience in such greatly enhances CVs.

 

Hill walking and bush craft skills are mostly offered in the Mourne Mountains, which are too far away for many people to attend.  A basic guide to safe walking in the hills, along with bush craft skills will better equip people to enjoy the Belfast Hills safely.

 

Issues such as Policy and Climate Change can seem rather scary/off putting, hence there are currently no available courses on this subject. We will explore these issues via a bespoke training session designed to engage young people, encouraging them to make a difference. This may in turn feed into the ‘other young people led suggestions’ programme.

 

We aim to:

 

  • Enable greater levels of species monitoring and recording within the Belfast Hills, resulting in better understanding of the environment and positive management changes.
  • See more people responsibly using the hills for walking.
  • Encourage young people to progress to further qualification and career enhancement.
  • Encourage long term volunteering with the Belfast Hills Partnership via skilled young people who have been trained in a wide range of relevant topics.