Biological Records Centre Volunteer (Trainee)


Cricklepit Mill ,

Devon Wildlife Trust, Cricklepit Mill
Commercial Road,
Exeter, Devon, EX2 4AB

Heath fritillary. Photo, Jim Higham

Devon Biodiversity Record Centre (DBRC) are offering a volunteer training placement for an individual who wishes to increase their expertise and technical experience within the ecology and conservation sector.

Position details







Contact details

For an informal chat about the post please contact Ian Egerton on either 01392 274128 or email on

About the role

Devon Biodiversity Record Centre (DBRC) will be hosting a volunteer training placement in 2018, and this year the focus will be on offering training and experience in a range of desk based skills, including elements of project management.  This role is highly suitable to individuals who wish to work in the ecology and conservation sector, and want to increase their expertise and technical experience within the sector.

Specifically, the placement will provide a motivated individual with an opportunity to become experienced in the use of GIS (MapInfo/QGIS) and programming languages such as R studio and python, and the application of these systems within a range of ecological projects.  These will include species specific projects, and priority habitat mapping and aerial photograph interpretation projects.  In addition, the opportunity to gain working experience in associated elements such as landowner liaison, stakeholder engagement, data management, project set up and budgeting will be integrated in the varied program. There may also be some limited opportunity to shadow staff undertaking fieldwork.

The 2018 placement may appeal to those with a higher interest in technical desk based applications which inform and influence conservation, and a firm understanding and interest in the world of ecology is fundamental. The volunteer may also have the opportunity to attend courses run by DBRC for external bodies.

What the task involves

This is a volunteer role with significant, structured training.  We are looking for someone who would like to volunteer for a minimum of 3 days a week for 4 - 6 months.

The volunteer would be based at the DBRC office, and will spend most of their time here, although very occasional travel to other locations may be required.  Initially, volunteers will be trained by DBRC staff in the use of GIS and other bespoke programs including Recorder 6.  Training and experience in project support will be provided and the volunteer will gain experience in a number of areas, such as identifying and contacting landowners for the survey team, production of site maps and survey packs, and liaison with project partners.  In addition, the placement will include training and support to produce detailed land use mapping, and a range of GIS outputs which can communicate underlying data to a broad audience, and inform conservation effort across Devon. Full H&S training would be provided for relevant tasks.

Skills and Abilities

We ask that applicants feel confident that they will be able to commit to this role for at least 4 months and be available for interview on the required date.  

An understanding of some of Devon’s habitats and species would be advantageous but we are also looking for enthusiasm, aptitude and potential and not just current ability. We envisage this would be an excellent opportunity for recent graduates wanting experience to enable them to enter the job market or for more experienced people looking for a change in direction.

Essential skills:

  • Good interpersonal skills 
  • Good organisational skills
  • Good written and spoken communication skills
  • Be able to use computer facilities with confidence and to acquire new skills quickly.  Familiar with word processing and spreadsheets
  • Experience of GIS
  • Able to follow and interpret protocols
  • Self-motivated, able to work effectively within a team structure and on own initiative
  • Familiarity with OS map interpretation


  • Educated to degree level or equivalent, preferably in an environmental subject (e.g.  conservation, ecology, geography);
  • An understanding of conservation issues and some knowledge of natural history.


DBRC, 27 Commercial Road, Exeter, EX2 4AE Devon.

When and how often?

Minimum 3 days per week. Times flexible and as arranged with DBRC.

Expenses/equipment available

All equipment needed for the role will be provided. Some corporate clothing will be available for the duration of the placement including waterproofs if needed for occasional site visits or courses.  Volunteers will need to provide appropriate footwear. 

Reasonable travel expenses as agreed in advance will be paid in line with DWT’s expenses policy.

(Please note that sadly no accommodation is offered or available).

What's in it for the volunteer?

This is a fantastic opportunity to learn from highly experienced staff and to develop your own abilities.  The experience gained by volunteering will provide excellent skills for your CV, and substance for a reference that we will be happy to provide. You will have the opportunity to gain excellent GIS and aerial photograph interpretation skills, gain experience of biological data management and see how conservation projects are developed and managed.  There will also be opportunities to learn about Devon’s wildlife and habitat management.

You will be part of a leading wildlife conservation organisation, and see from the inside how it operates, with opportunities to join in with staff development days.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV and covering letter, explaining why you have the aptitude for this role, to Ian Egerton either by email or by post to Devon Biodiversity Records Centre, 27 Commercial Road, Exeter, EX2 4AE.  Please state how you heard about the opportunity. 

Closing date: Sunday 5 August at midnight.

For an informal chat about the posts please contact Ian on 01392 274128 or the email address above.

Further information about the placement can be found in the attached task brief.

Interviews will take place at the Devon Wildlife Trust head office in Exeter during the week beginning 20 August.