Working4Wildlife: Arctic fox, the bigger picture, Norway

The location

These beautiful and remote areas of northern Norway offer stunning views and a type of nature connection that will, from time to time, call on your reserves.  Here are the plants, fungi, insects and mammals that all connect to make us this amazing ecosystem. This enthralling landscape is a backdrop to a physically and emotionally demanding opportunity to see a wider perceptive of endangered species recovery work.  There is a reality here which is not for everyone, but does offer a unique insight into the considerable efforts being put into ensuring a future for the ecology that can support a viable arctic fox population.

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Arctic fox, the bigger picture, Norway

Your host organisation

The Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) is Norway’s leading institution for applied ecological research. NINA is responsible for long-term strategic research and commissioned applied research to facilitate the implementation of international conventions, decision-support systems and management tools, as well as to enhance public awareness and promote conflict resolution. The institute employs a staff of approximately 200 and directs well-equipped laboratories and facilities at seven locations in Norway. In addition, NINA addresses a wide variety of interdisciplinary issues involving both ecologists and social scientists, and plays an important role in European and other international research activities. NINA is experienced in dealing with natural and human aspects of resource and biodiversity management in developing countries and Eastern Europe, and has actively contributed to capacity building and technology transfer by means of research cooperation and consultancy activities. NINA’s activities encompass resource assessment and monitoring, development of methodologies, environmental impact assessments, community-based resource management, and analysis of natural, anthropogenic and socio-economic aspects of biodiversity and resource management.  For information at https://www.facebook.com/ninaforskning/ and https://www.nina.no/english

The mobility part of Working4Wildlife is totally funded by ERASMUS+

 

Participant Feedback

Previous participants have said

The best part was “Opportunity to gain training in Arctic fox handling and care. Then actual handling of pups”

A recommendation: “Definitely do it but make sure to consider fitness and ethical implications of the role. I am 100% confident that it has been valuable. You only get out what you put in. Furthermore, you need to be flexible and wary that things often do not go as planned (but enjoy the ride, it often ends in stories).”

I learnt: “How to dissect red foxes (and their internal anatomy). Methods of data collection, using quadrat, transect and temperature loggers. How to identify a variety of plant, animal and fungi species.”

Tasks During Mobility

Two Working4Wildlife places are available at The Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA).  You need to be fit – capable of carrying a 20kg backpack over uneven terrain for hours at a time – able to handle remote, self sufficient, outdoor living for weeks at a time – and you need to be ok with aspects of ecological research that involve safe live animal handling, captive breeding and (potentially) dead animal dissections that gather vital information on parasites, injuries and disease.

While the exact makeup and timing of the tasks will depend on external factors such as weather and logistics (sometimes helicopter transport has to be re-arranged at short notice due to weather conditions!), previous trainees have been involved in a range of projects which support and enhance the endangered artic fox recovery programme.

Trainees have learned Norwegian bird, plant and fungi identification skills and been closely involved with the safe trapping, extraction and handling of Arctic fox pups, identifying their condition and sex.  They have also conducted bird and small mammal surveys, assisted with a camera trap project to understand Arctic fox/Red fox dynamics and had the opportunity to dissect red fox carcasses in order to understand mammalian internal anatomy & parasite loads.  Simple ‘first step’ Norwegian language is also part of the training as is working closely with others as part of a team and entering research data from fieldwork into Microsoft Excel.

You will start your training in Trondheim at NINA HQ and you may spend time in a series of other locations – the map here shows some of them but, as is always the case with ecological research, things can change.

Dates for your diary

The journey begins at the UK residential 23-27 March at Lower Sharpham Farm where you will learn practical nature conservation survey and communication skills and hear more about your chosen mobility.

You’ll learn

  • Introduction to bird, mammal and invertebrate identification
  • Small mammal and camera trapping
  • Meet your fellow participants
  • Hear more about your host organisation and logistics
  • Discuss the kit list
  • Be introduced to your on-line learning environment
  • See how the paperwork bit works
  • Hear about the post-mobility Employers’ knowledge cafe
  • Understand how our system of support works

Field trip dates are:

Saturday 13th June – Tuesday 22nd September

Travel and Insurance

For logistic and funding reasons we will probably have to fly you to Norway (not our wish).  You can help begin to address the carbon impact during your time at Lower Sharpham Farm in March when you can be involved in our tree planting plans for 2020 and beyond..

Successful applicants will be awarded an Erasmus+ financial contribution towards personal insurance. This must be purchased before the field trip and a copy of the insurance certificate supplied to Ambios Ltd prior to your departure.

Food and accommodation in Norway

Accommodation will be a mixture of town based and remote.  For most of the time it will be remote and simple, out in the field in tents or waterless cabins, with some exceptions at more equipped field stations with electricity, shower and internet. Accommodation equipment will be provided.  A weekly allowance will be paid in local currency for food which can be contributed to a central food ‘kitty’, depending on the situation and if it makes things more cost effective.

As well as a good deal of walking you’ll need to be prepared to travel by train and vehicles such as car, 4×4, truck and at times, helicopter, over long distances and potentially uneven terrain. Norway is a big country and travelling long distances takes time (bring a some music on a mobile device and some headphones!).  If you have a driving license, you may be asked to drive a car and transport fellow trainees.  All travel costs associated with carrying out work for NINA are covered by the project.

Applicants must be in very good physical condition and have some experience of outdoor living over periods of time. They must be able to carry back packs weighing up to 25kg and be willing to live for 2-3 weeks in tents with a ‘buddy pair’ under simple conditions.  Confident with walking across difficult terrain is essential along with the ability to orientate with maps, GPS and compass.  We need fit people that can carry equipment and camping gear, sharing the burden of heavy loads. You must also be interested in doing routine work collecting data, concentrating on small details during long days of work.

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Kit list: We recommend you bring the following items

PERSONAL EQUIPMENT LIST

  • Backpack (must be comfortable to carry 20-25 kg = must be 60-80L).
    • (Could borrow from NINA, please let us know)
  • Rain cover for backpack (top tip: one that’s larger than the backpack!)
  • Sleeping bag – needs to handle at least -10 C (or use an extra sheet sleeping bag)
  • Sleeping mat (Could borrow from NINA)
  • Plate and cutlery
  • All-round knife
  • Water bottle, or Camelback
  • Wool underwear (longs and shirt)
  • Fleece shirt and pants (optional, depending on weather forecast)
  • Wool socks (2-3 pairs)
  • Hiking boots (must be worn in)
  • Regular underwear and T-shirts
  • Hat/cap
  • Wool hat/cap
  • Gloves
  • Scarf or other neck protection
  • Sunglasses
  • Shell pants and jacket (windproof & waterproof)
  • Headlight
  • Basic toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, sunscreen, blister plaster (for heels/feet), towel

LIST OF EQUIPMENT FOR DEN VISITS (PER TEAM) – to be supplied by NINA

  • Tent
  • GPS (with appropriate den coordinates and maps)
  • SPOT Gen3 or Emergency beacon
  • Satellite phone (when relevant)
  • First aid kit
  • Food for relevant number of days
  • Stove
  • Gas or oil
  • Lighter / matches
  • General-purpose liquid soap and sponge / dishtowel
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Plastic bag for garbage collection
  • Toilet paper
  • Binoculars
  • Camera (to document dens and pups)

Post Mobility

Following your mobilities you’ll receive recognition from your hosts and a Europass. Once you’ve completed the on-line learning you’ll receive further recognition via an e-badge.

You’ll also be invited to a final course get together in October at our farm in South Devon.

Note: You can take up to 1 year from your date of registration to complete the on-line course.

How to apply

To access the Erasmus+ funding you must have a UK residential address (evidence may be required). As we experience high demand for this course you will need to make an application.

ROUND 1 = Closing date 12noon Monday 2nd March.

ROUND 2 = Closing date 12noon Monday 16th March.

Limited places: ROUND 1 strongly advised.  Successful candidates will be invited to a Skype or WhatsApp interview within 5 days.

APPLICATION FORM

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