QGIS is a type of GIS software that is free and open source. GIS, or mapping software, has endless possibilities for analysing and manipulating spatial data… aka ‘location data’. This includes features such as displaying species records, mapping management and producing maps for use in reports. 

Butterfly Conservation staff make use of QGIS daily for a variety of conservation, research and communication purposes. All data that we work with is ‘location data’ ie a species records, a transect route, a grazing compartment, a fence line- QGIS is a useful and powerful tool to analyse and communicate information to help conserve butterflies and moths.

We have been running internal training courses for BC staff for nearly 5 years and have now created a similar set of online training sessions to be made available to interested country butterfly/moth recorders, branch committee members and project partners. The training is optional and it is up to the interested individual which sessions to attend depending on their requirements and availability. Sessions will be undertaken online using Zoom and a recording of each session will be made available for attendees and those who cannot attend. The training course will be run by Patrick Cook, Ecologist/GIS Support Officer for Butterfly Conservation.

This training is split into three parts. You may wish to attend both beginners and skills sessions or just specific skills sessions. The choice is yours.
Please click on the links below to book a session. If you have any queries in the meantime please contact @email


Demonstration of QGIS

A tour of QGIS and some of the features and analysis you can do using this software. This will be a short demo with a chance to ask questions about QGIS and the course/sessions. If you’re undecided whether QGIS is for you, this is the perfect time to find out.


14th October 2020: 19:00 to 20:00
15th October 2020: 10:00 to 11:00

Beginners Training Course

This course consists of two sessions covering the basics of QGIS (you must attend both sessions). The sessions will be aimed at those with no prior knowledge of QGIS but who are keen to learn. Each session will be limited to 10 people and will only run if three or more people are attending This session will cover the following items to build your skills getting comfortable with using QGIS.
•    What are the key features/buttons in QGIS.
•    Types of data and formats.
•    Map projections.
•    Making a QGIS project.
•    Adding basemaps from the web.
•    Calculating grid references using a plugin.
•    Working with attribute data.
•    Making selections and filtering within datasets.
•    Calculating areas of shapes eg SSSI’s.
•    Creating new layers and digitising shapes.
•    Stylising layers and making maps to export as a jpeg or other formats.
•    Spatial queries eg how many records of x species falls within y SSSI.


Part 1 19/10/20




Part 2 26/10/20




Specific Skills - Session 1

File Management

This session will cover a topic that underpins all the work you undertake in QGIS. We will cover how to set-up a QGIS project and create a suitable file format on your device to create and store projects and layers. Good file management is simple but important to ensuring your work in QGIS is accurate.


3/11/2020 - 10:00 to 11:00

Specific Skills - Session 2

How to create a management map

This tutorial will contain mapping advice for all those who wish to create maps of management for contractors, websites or reports, in a neat format which can be exported as a PDF or JPEG. We will work through an example creating a management map for a reserve including how to set up and digitise management polygons in a layer and how to stylise a suitable map to share with others.


4/11/2020 - 10:00 to 12:00

Specific Skills - Session 3

Basic atlas mapping 

This session will cover basic atlas mapping using the Biological Records tool within the FSC TomBio plugin. By the end of the session you will be comfortable importing data from Excel into QGIS, making single species atlas maps and creating summary maps for record density, species richness and abundance. 


10/11/2020 - 10:00 to 12:00

Specific Skills - Session 4

Atlas mapping

This session will cover batch atlas mapping using the Biological Records tool within the FSC TomBio plugin. We will cover how to create batch butterfly atlas maps using species data, with a smallish dataset off <100,000 records. We recommend you attend skills session 3 prior to attending this session.


10/11/2020 - 14:00 to 16:00

Specific Skills - Session 5

Spatial Queries

This session will cover a key skill in QGIS, spatial queries. A spatial query is the extraction of data from one layer based on the extent of data from another. You will learn how to make selections for instance selecting all the butterfly/moths records that fall within a particular SSSI or NNR boundary. 


17/11/2020 - 10:00 to 12:00

Specific Skills - Session 6

Table and Spatial Joins

Being able to join data from a spreadsheet to an existing map layer is a powerful feature of QGIS and is known as a table join. A spatial join is the ability to add data from the attribute table of one layer to another based on its location. By the end of this session you will be able to add information such as VC name and SSSI name to species records, and add spreadsheet data to mapped sites.


17/11/2020 - 14:00 to 16:00

Specific Skills - Session 7

Summarising Data

This session will cover how to summarise data from QGIS including how to do this within QGIS itself using the Group Stats plugin or Statistics by Category feature and in Excel using a pivot table.


24/11/2020 - 10:00 to 12:00

Advanced Skills - Session 1

Raster Analysis

This session will cover some of the basics of raster analysis using tools such as the Raster Calculator. We will be using Digital Elevation Models (DEM’s) and environmental data such as rainfall. At the end of this session you will be comfortable visualising raster datasets, calculating aspect values and running basic species distribution models.


1/12/2020 - 09:00 to 13:00

Advanced Skills - Session 2


A demo session of how Harry Clarke uses PostGIS to stores his butterfly records for Surrey as a county recorder. 


To be confirmed