Student Projects

Could you help us to collect and manage environmental data, either in the field or in the office? If you have time to spare or want to do something new, why not become actively involved? We have a database of over 3 million records, which is used to provide data to local authorities, parish councils, local people, conservation bodies, land-owners, students and commercial organisations. We are a 'not for profit' organisation and we could not operate without our loyal group of volunteers.

Project opportunities available with TVERC are outlined below.  If you are interested in any of the projects, please get in touch or discuss them with your University supervisor.  If you have any questions or other project ideas you would like to discuss, please get in touch at tverc@oxfordshire.gov.uk.

Available projects include:

  • Characterising the biodiversity value of urban areas

    Urban areas are important for species such as hedgehogs and swifts, but the biodiversity value varies greatly depending on the amount of green infrastructure present. This is not always easy to measure, and this project focuses on methods for characterising the biodiversity value of urban areas. The results will be used as part of a connectivity study to see how the character of urban areas affects the potential of species to move through urban areas. This project will require GIS skills.

  • Important hedgerows in Oxfordshire

    TVERC has a large number of paper-based records for hedgerows surveys and in order to identify "important" hedgerows (classified by the Hedgerow Regulations) these records will need to be digitised and the important hedgerows will be mapped. This project will require GIS and Microsoft Excel skills.

  • Record centre data quality review

    The Association of Local Environmental Records Centres (ALERC), of which TVERC is a member, is working on setting data standards for LERCs that will allow for data from different LERCs to be easily combined for regional or national projects, as well as to meet emerging policy requirements such as Biodiversity Net Gain. This project will involve reviewing a sample of data from LERCs in South East England to answer questions such as how do the attribute names differ between LERCs, what percentage of data would fit the emerging standard, etc. This project requires Microsoft Excel skills.  

  • Species gap analysis

    This project would involve picking a species local to Berkshire and Oxfordshire that holds particular interest to you and analysing the distribution of that species against protected sites across the two counties. It would likely be beneficial to do this on at least three fairly similar species to compare the level of protection, and then outlining new sites (or at least the criteria for new sites) for protection. This project requires GIS skills.

  • Species richness and biodiversity analysis of Greenspaces

    The project will involve calculating species richness and biodiversity for greenspaces to determine over/under valued areas. You would then do some research to determine whether this may be because of a lack of records that we would highlight and promote, or a genuine lack of biodiversity. A primary outcome of this project would be comparing different categories of greenspaces, for example comparing the species diversity within a park or playing field to a nature reserve , to outline the importance of biodiversity, rewilding and protection of greenspaces. It would also be beneficial to compare greenspaces biodiversity in high and low income areas, to highlight the need for better land management and prioritisation of low income areas’ greenspaces. This project requires GIS and data analysis skills.

  • Surveying Accessible Wildlife Sites

    We have recently developed, with the help of Oxford student Naomi Parker, an “Accessible Wildlife Sites” layer, which contains greenspaces that may hold wildlife value and are either open access, open but with a fee or accessible through public rights of way (although in these cases the access is restricted to the right of way). Some of these sites have a poor data coverage, and so we would ask our students and volunteers to go out and record! If there is a species group that you are interested in we can supply you with the accessible sites that have the fewest records for that group, so that you can really make a difference for our database. TVERC would additioanlly be willing to provide support for any research project based around these sites, whether that is advice, additioanal GIS layers or data analysis training. This project requires species identification skills. 

  • Horizon Scanning

    This project will involve looking into the top invasive threats to the UK, and researching the best methods to predict potential invasion areas across Berkshire and Oxfordshire. This will highlight key areas for colonisation and allow you to discuss how to best manage these areas to prevent the species spreading. For a longer term project, habitat suitability modelling for each of these species applied to Berkshire and Oxfordshire would be the optimal method in identifying potential invasion sites to encourage local groups to monitor. This project requires GIS and data analysis skills.


Examples of recent volunteer projects are shown below:

Understanding Hedgehog distribution. 

The volunteer researched hedgehog habitat requirements and dispersal distances, mapped hedgehog records and preferred habitats throughout Oxford and created a species distribution model. This article has been published and will aid projects such as the Hedgehog Highway Project to prioritise areas to manage for improved hedgehog distribution.

Approaches for recording habitat conservation work

Several different approaches were investigated for recording the conservation activities carried out by local groups.

Study of wood ants

 The volunteer carried out a survey of wood ants within Swinley Forest, A Site of Special Scientific Interest. They successfully mapped 50 Formica rufa nests and 2 nests of a rarer species – Formica sanguinea. This allows the local authority to plan maintenance work around the nests, minimising disturbance.

Invasive species

 The feasibility of carrying out a citizen science project to record invasive species was considered, involving mapping species distributions and assessing their suitability for mass survey observations.

Accessible Wildlife Sites

The initial work has been completed in setting up a GIS dataset of Acessible Wildlife Sites across Berkshire and Oxfordshire. Read more in this article. 

Species Gap Analysis

Students have completed this for hedgehogs, hazel dormouse and skylark.