Mandy Rudd, GiGL Director, highlights the extraordinary amount of work that goes on behind the scenes at GiGL
GiGL is more than just a database. GiGL is also both a highly experienced and skilled team of staff, and a partnership of major organisations and individuals. The audience for data continues to grow, with increasing numbers of organisations becoming partners, and more and more departments within those organisations requiring access to a reliable evidence base to inform their work.
The need for up to date reliable information is no longer confined to conservationists and species experts. New reporting requirements and legislation such as the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act, 2006, has seen planners making increasing demands on the data we hold. And members of the public and students regularly access GiGL’s data-holdings and services to inform their work and research.
With new audiences come new demands on our data holdings. Ever-responsive to demand, GiGL are constantly developing new products and services, some of which are detailed in this fourth issue of the GiGLer.
The value of GiGL’s work is not only as an intermediary – delivering data to consultants, planners, et al.The GiGL team actively create an audience for our partners’ data and for other services that they provide. We make sure that biodiversity data is a factor in planning decisions; that it informs conservation priorities of charities, local and regional government, volunteer groups, etc.; that it is available to boroughs to help fulfil their duties under the NERC Act; that it helps recorders identify areas where data are lacking and on which to concentrate their efforts, and more.
Some biodiversity-related funding streams such as SITA, who allocate funding through the Landfill Communities Fund, now require that projects they fund automatically submit resulting data to the relevant local records centre. Our expertise and that of other biodiversity records centres and national organisations such as the National Biodiversity Network with which we collaborate, are invaluable to organisations preparing such funding bids.
Increasingly, we are invited to participate in open space and biodiversity-related projects from their outset, something we very much welcome.Working in this collaborative way ensures that the collection, collation and provision of data meet national standards.The many such projects we have worked on have provided us, and our partners, with a suite of guidance and products to ease data collection and provision. From information on how survey results should be supplied by contractors, through to data exchange agreements and policies, all are made available to partners, and customers.
The creation of a regional open space dataset, in partnership with the boroughs and Greater London Authority, will inform the production of boroughs’ open space strategies and local development documents. It will also help to identify deficiencies in open space provision and opportunities to redress them.
Online recording forms help our partners to reach a new increasingly computer literate audience, and allow us, once we’ve carried validated the data (see page 4) to upload data directly into our database (pages 3-4).Through projects such as our school grounds recording project with the London borough of Harrow we not only gather valuable biodiversity data, but also connect with a more computer literate, younger generation – the recorders of the future. And, with a team of six staff working daily to develop and maintain the best available data for London and associated products and services, our partners are free to spend their time on their own areas of expertise.
We are always keen to be involved in all relevant projects and are constantly looking for ways of engaging new audiences in generating and accessing data with our partners. If you have any ideas, please do get in touch.