In the midst of rapid environmental change and dwindling habitats, there is an increasing need for identifying wild species in the field, and these skills are under-represented in modern biology curricula (“Endangered species”, Opinion, 26 February). We need an innovative approach that recognises the wide public interest in nature and transforms it constructively.
As an international leader in taxonomy, the Natural History Museum is well placed to support people in developing identification skills. For example, the Identification Trainers for the Future programme is a 12-month work-based traineeship that also enables its students to pass on their skills and to enthuse others. The programme is run in partnership with the Field Studies Council and the National Biodiversity Network Trust and is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
There has been a significant rise in public membership of nature organisations in the past 30 years. People value learning about and spending time in nature, even if they’re not seeing it from a biological perspective. The public appetite for field identification skills is there; we need to work together to harness it.
Steph West, project manager of the Identification Trainers for the Future programme, Natural History Museum, London
John Tweddle, head of the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity, Natural History Museum, London