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Expedition Mapping Unit

Advice & information on using geographical information for fieldwork.

Fieldworkers use many conventional survey and recording techniques. They can also benefit from technologies, such as: 

Bullet  GPS (global positioning system) to record positions and to navigate
Bullet  remote sensing provides environmental information
Bullet  GIS (geographic information systems) to record, process and display all kinds of spatial data

The uses of GIS range from:
Bullet  logistics (planning navigation, communication etc.)
Bullet  to research (vegetation change, field patterns, animal distributions etc.)
Bullet  and conservation applications (predicting biodiversity, park zonation, impact assessment, etc.).

The Expedition Mapping Unit exists to share expertise in these techniques.

Those involved in expeditions or fieldwork are welcome to contact us.

The emphasis is on low-cost, reliable, and relatively simple approaches, appropriate for most non-profit research and conservation endeavours.

The Unit is run by Nicholas McWilliam (Anglia Polytchnic University) and Richard Teeuw (University of Portsmouth) among others.

Other resources:

Bullet  Expedition Field Techniques: GIS, GPS and Remote Sensing Manual (N. McWilliam, R. Teeuw, M. Whiteside & P. Zukowskyj. RGS-IBG Expedition Advisory Centre, 2005).
This manual to provide details of fieldwork techniques, from ‘traditional’ compass-based surveying, through to the use of GIS to show GPS-located sites on satellite images displayed on a laptop screen for diverse applications.

Bullet  GIS training for expeditions & fieldwork
This course is run annually in March
The Unit runs a three-day hands-on workshop for those keen to get practical experience of using these technologies for fieldwork.

Bullet  t4cd
This website provides an exciting new resource for the conservation community. It explores the links between technology, wildlife conservation and development. See the link on the right to find out more.

Field Technologies - fieldwork mapping and monitoring party

In 2016 the Society organised a mapping 'party' to showcase new, cheap and accessible fieldwork technologies. The topics and resulting presentations can be found below:

There were also one-minute talks:

We would like to thank King's College London for their support for this event and hope to run something similar again in 2017.

If you would like further information on any of these presentations please contact Geography Outdoors (go@rgs.org).


Images of remotely sensed data, GPS units and an expedition surveying sand dunes.
RGS-IBG links
· Google Earth training day
· GIS training for fieldwork and expeditions
· GIS, GPS and Remote Sensing manual
· Fieldwork and Expeditions workshops
· GISci key weblinks.PDF
· Quick guide to Geoinformatics (PDF)
Send email to
· Expedition Mapping Unit
· Map Action - emergency mapping service
· t4cd - technologies and wildlife conservation website
· Digital Explorer - Google Earth for Educators

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