This November, the Society’s annual expedition and fieldwork planning weekend celebrates its 40th year
Explore has become the key gathering for people interested in travelling with a purpose and many delegates return year on year to share their experiences, make contacts, and get advice for future projects. For those attending for the first time, Explore provides inspiration and helps turn vague ideas for possible expeditions into something tangible and achievable. Being surrounded by so many people with a passion for their chosen form of expedition or field research is empowering and infectious.
To mark the 40th anniversary, this year’s opening lecture on Friday 18 November will be a series of TED-style talks from past Explore attendees. They will discuss the contributions they have made to field science and what they think the future of exploration is. Contrary to popular opinion, there is still much to be explored and discussion on what the future holds will no doubt continue in the bar after the talks and throughout the weekend. Field researchers are needed worldwide to collect high quality geographical data to monitor and understand our rapidly changing world and the work they do makes a real difference. The better the data, the easier it is for policy makers to take informed decisions.
The United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide one avenue of inspiration for researchers. The challenges set by the SDGs include biodiversity and ecosystems; desertification, land degradation and drought; poverty reduction; disaster risk reduction; and water and sanitation, among many others. There are also exciting opportunities for expeditions to harness new technologies associated with collecting data, including camera-traps, drones, and low-cost mapping software.
So, if you are planning an expedition involving field research, conservation or an adventurous journey with a purpose, Explore is the place to find inspiration, contacts and practical advice. It’s the starting point for hundreds of expeditions each year and while the emphasis is on small projects with a research component, everyone is welcome, regardless of age or experience.
Highlights of the weekend include:
- Practical advice on planning geographical field research, conservation, and journeys with a purpose.
- Specialist workshops on field research skills, working in remote environments, and communicating discoveries through writing, photography, film and art.
- Opportunities to meet and share ideas with others.
- Specialists on hand to share tips on fundraising, social media, mapping technologies and keeping safe.
RGS-IBG Independent Travel Grants
The Society offers three grants for challenging, inspiring journeys with a geographical purpose and this year’s deadlines are fast approaching.
The Journey of a Lifetime Award is run in partnership with BBC Radio 4. It offers a £5,000 grant for an original and memorable journey anywhere in the world, plus training in field recording from the BBC and the chance to share your experiences through a radio documentary. The recipient of the 2016 award is professional cellist Nina Plapp, who travelled to the northern Indian province of Rajasthan to meet the nomads of the Thar Desert and learn about their rich musical culture. Nina’s BBC Radio 4 documentary will be broadcast on Friday 21 October 2016. The deadline for the 2017 Journey of a Lifetime Award is 2 November 2016.
The Land Rover Bursary is run by the Society on behalf of Jaguar Land Rover. Offering up to £30,000 and the loan of a vehicle – which in 2017 will be the new Land Rover Discovery – the bursary is aimed at those who want to take a journey beyond their limits and for which a Land Rover is an integral part. This award is all about challenging yourself and inspiring others. This year’s recipients, Tom Allen and Alessandro Mambelli, have done exactly that on their Transcaucasian Expedition to create the first long-distance hiking trail across the mountains of Georgia and Armenia. Tom and Alessandro spent six months using GIS technology to survey off-road routes and develop the resources to hike a 1,500km backcountry trail. Applications for the 2017 bursary must be submitted by 30 November 2016.
The Neville Shulman Challenge Award offers up to £5,000 for a project that furthers the understanding and exploration of the planet: its cultures, people and environments. In previous years the award has supported camera trapping surveys deep in the Peruvian Andes, a photography project investigating the progress of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, and a documentary of life in the remote Himalayan kingdom of Zanskar. This year’s recipient is Sam Jones who will be leading an expedition to Mozambique to undertake the first biological exploration of the Njesi Plateau. The deadline for the 2017 award is 30 November and applications are invited from both individuals and groups.
Details of all the grants available for projects taking place in 2017 can be found at www.rgs.org/grants.
EXPLORE 2016, the RGS-IBG annual expedition and field research planning seminar in on Friday, Saturday and Sunday 18-20 November 2016. Address: Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR. Earlybird discounts available until 15 October at www.rgs.org/explore