The conservation and sustained use of biodiversity--that is, manifold fauna and flora and their habitats--is currently a major theme in national and international environmental policies.
The news media have given it broad coverage and the employment market is responding with increasing demands for personnel with experience and knowledge
- in sustaining natural resources
- in protecting species and environments
- in developing sustainable forms of land usage
- in maintaining the usability and value of a manifold cultural landscape.
Such competence is an increasing demand in industry, as well as in many service branches, in the educational sector and in public administration. In the processes of planning, executing and evaluating construction projects in intercity as well as suburban areas it has in the meantime become mandatory. Whereas larger communities or counties are generally able to rely on the knowledge of the specialist personnel in their environmental protection departments, the smaller communities and towns seldom have personnel with adequate experience in the fields of protection and development of biodiversity. In order to offer support to these communities, the international BD Skills Project has been established.
The project is aimed at increasing the professional skills of civil servants in integrating biodiversity into policies, plans and actions in small to middle-sized cities and communities (less than 50,000 residents)--in a participation-oriented process dealing with the maintenance and sustainability of biological diversity. The project was begun in October 2010, will run 24 months, and is funded by the Leonardo Programme of the European Union. It includes six work packages:
- Existing best practices contributing to increased knowledge of conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in small to medium-sized towns and communities will be collected and used to develop a training method for biodiversity education.
- Advanced training standards and methods for communal biodiversity protection will be defined.
- An international workshop to discuss training standards and to test their methods will be held.
- A “master plan” of methods and materials, based on the results of the workshop, will be drawn up.
- The master plan will be put to test in participating communities.
- Public relations activity will be initiated within the framework of a final international conference and through publication of the project results.
Participants in the BD-Skills project are NGO’s, and specific educational institutions and communities in Great Britain, France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany.