Field Identification Skills Certificate (FISC)

Friday 26 July 2024, 9:30am
University of Hertfordshire, Bayfordbury Campus, Hertford
Registration closed

Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust (HMWT) is delivering FISC in partnership with the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI).

The FISC is a test that assesses your botanical proficiency on a scale from 1 (beginner) to 5 (professional), with a level 6 awarded in exceptional cases. Originally developed by Sarah Whild and Sue Dancey, the BSBI's FISC Development Working Group (including a number of experienced FISC Assessors) now supports and oversees the running of FISCs.

The FISC assesses your real-life botanical skills and is not designed to be part of a training course. It's gaining popularity, with some consultancies sending their staff annually to encourage skill development.

Conducted over a day, the FISC is an enjoyable experience. It consists of two lab sessions where candidates identify 30 fresh specimens from across Britain and Ireland. Following this is a field survey where you spend a couple of hours building a species list on an interesting local site. Your identifications are then compared to a list generated by the Gold Standard Surveyor to determine your skill level.

Results are confidential, but you can choose to share them with potential employers and colleagues. With no pass or fail, the FISC is open to everyone, regardless of skill level. Upon completion, you receive an electronic certificate from the BSBI indicating your skill level, along with advice on activities you are competent to undertake and further studies for progression

What to bring?

  • A hand lens and ID books. The FISC Information Booklet suggests Stace: New Flora of the British Isles plus a good picture guide such as Rose: The Wild Flower Key as an appropriate combination. Poland: The Vegetative Key to the British Flora can also be a useful resource for plants not in flower.
  • Please wear appropriate layers for the weather and bring wet weather gear including boots/wellies. If it's a sunny day, please bring suncream and a hat for the afternoon session.
  • A clipboard, notebook/paper, pens and pencils, a recording card if you are using one and possibly a grapnel (although there will be a few to share in case of aquatic plants survey sites).
  • Bring a packed lunch (kitchen facilities - fridge, microwave - will not be available) and a drink..
  • During the FISC you will not be allowed to use a phone or other electronic device, so please bring along a watch to keep track of your time (in the classroom time calls will be given at regular intervals). In the field, depending on the site, the FISC Provider will blow a whistle at set times.
  • If you may need any medication or epi-pens during the day, please ensure you have these with you

What will the day entail?

There are three separate elements to a FISC, yielding four separate scores. There are two lab tests, the first of which is ten specimens that should be identified without using any books or keys. Then there are twenty specimens that may be identified using any books or keys, but no reference collections or on-line resources may be used.
The third test is in the field – after lunch you will spend approximately two hours surveying a small site and recording the vascular plant species.

Find out more about a FISC in the FISC 2024 Information Booklet available here.

Please be aware that each place booked for the FISC will need an individual email address. Please do not use the same email address if you are making multiple bookings for a group.

Find out mores about the FISC at the BSBI website - Field Identification Skills Certificate – Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland (


Registration Options

Adult Registration
Adults only (over 18)
Registration closed

University of Hertfordshire, Bayfordbury Campus, Hertford

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