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The Gap Year Blog

Qualification Focus - BTEC Tropical Habitat Conservation

19 Feb 2016 14:10 PM

In the first few instalments of Sam’s monthly blog, he’ll be focusing on each of the three Frontier qualifications that we offer.  In this first one, Sam takes a closer look at the Frontier BTEC qualifications in Tropical Habitat Conservation. If you’re thinking about undertaking a Frontier Group conservation project or are already signed up to one, the next few paragraphs will explore our BTEC Tropical Habitat Conservation qualifications and how they could help you get more out of your project as well providing something really useful for your CV.

Ever wondered what those famous field scientists like Jane Goodall, Diane Fossey, George McGavin and even Sir David Attenborough got up to when the cameras aren’t rolling? Chances are they’re engaged in serious field science studying behaviour, collecting samples and analysing data in their respective areas of interest.

Whether you’re undertaking field work on ground-breaking, fully funded BBC TV programmes with hi-tech equipment or tramping through the rain-sodden forest to record butterfly species with a net in your hand, the principles of field science in tropical environments are the same. Our BTEC qualifications in Tropical Habitat Conservation offer an introduction to conservation field research and the things that must be considered when planning, conducting a project and analysing the data that is collected.

Collecting data on leaf litter frogs in Costa Rica. Image courtesy of Vicky Armstrong


So what are BTEC qualifications?

BTECs are known as vocational qualifications. This mean they focus on practical skill development rather than academic knowledge. Although you will have to do some academic research, the primary aim of the BTEC Tropical Habitat Conservation is to develop candidates’ working knowledge of planning and running research projects in tropical environments.

These BTEC qualifications are written by us and certified by EDEXCEL at Level 3 (the same level as an AS and A Level) on the Qualifications and Credits Framework (QCF). EDEXCEL inspects Frontier annually to ensure we offer the highest possible standard of qualification to our project participants.

The BTECs have been written to support the work that already occurs on our field projects so they contribute to the work already being achieved, rather than detract from it. You will find it makes your work on a project even more focused, relevant and meaningful.

Some of our BTEC candidates said this:

“At first I was hesitant about doing a BTEC as I thought it would mean I would miss out on some of the other activities of the camp, but this was not the case. Instead, completing the BTEC only enhanced my experience and I very much enjoyed it. I would highly recommend a BTEC, especially to those doing a biology related course, it is extremely worthwhile and the experience gained is invaluable."

Natalie Koch, BTEC Advanced Certificate – Costa Rica

“Completing the BTEC Certificate in Tropical Habitat Conservation has given me great confidence in my ability to research wildlife as well as to prove my practical skills in field work”

Vicky Armstrong BTEC Advanced Certificate – Costa Rica

Image courtesy of Frontier Madagascar

BTEC Advanced Certificate or BTEC Advanced Diploma?

Frontier offers two slightly different BTEC qualifications. The Advanced Certificate is offered to volunteers who stay for 4 weeks or longer. The Advanced Diploma is offered to volunteers staying for 10 weeks or more.

Both the Advanced Certificate and Advanced Diploma cover similar material. Both require the candidate to plan and conduct a personal research project on a topic of their choice. Every BTEC candidate is assigned a mentor to help them devise a suitable project within the wider scope of the conservation project they are joining. Both BTEC qualifications require candidates to present their findings in a verbal presentation to a small group of their peers.

Due to the greater duration, the Advanced Diploma features a more in-depth personal project and a full written report on the findings made, but don’t worry! Frontier offers advice and guidance on producing the perfect report.

Image courtesy of Frontier Tanzania

What material will I cover for the BTEC?

Both BTEC Tropical Habitat Conservation qualifications consist of four main units of study:

• Maintain environmental good practice;

• Work effectively;

• Monitor and report on environmental change;

• Prepare, conduct and report on field surveys.

Each BTEC candidate is required to produce a number of evidences to show they have completed the four units. Each evidence a candidate is required to submit is linked to one or more of the units.

A major part of the BTEC qualification is to plan, carry out and report on a personal research project. Each BTEC candidate is assigned a BTEC mentor to offer advice and guidance on the proposal, planning and research stages as well as the review and verbal presentation.

Some examples of research projects across out projects are as follows:

•    “A Survey of the edible plants in the Toliara region, Madagascar.”

•    “Comparing the species richness of birds in three habitats in South West Madagascar.”

•    “A comparison between the Size of the Golden Orb-Weaving Spider and the Size of its Web in Primary and Secondary Forest on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.”

•    “Bird Diversity Survey on Mafia Island’s Habitats”

•    “Study to assess the Differences in the Biodiversity of Anurans between Forest and Farmland in Local Areas of the Kilombero Valley, Tanzania”

Great! So how do I enrol?

Enrolling is very straightforward. Once you’ve signed up to a project and paid your deposit, you’ll have access to a “Courses & kit” section. Here you’ll be able to download and read all of the information pertaining to the BTEC qualifications. At the end of the BTEC information pack, is an enrolment form that you’ll have to send back to us before we can enrol you on the qualification. You can either pay for the qualification by cheque, online or over the phone!

If you have any questions or would like to find out more about Frontier's BTEC qualifications, please feel free to give Sam a call on 020 7613 2422 or email training@frontier.ac.uk.

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