Emily Reynolds, London Borough of Redbridge.
For those over-stretched local authority ecologists who would love to play around with data and GIS maps but don’t have the time, GiGL provides an invaluable service. As nature conservation team leader for Redbridge, and someone who used to play with data as a records officer for the then Biological Recording Project, this includes me. Redbridge has had a service level agreement with the BRP and now GiGL, since 2001. As the project has developed over the years, the value and diversity of services has steadily increased.
The people side of biological data recording is crucial – it is the avid enthusiasts and casual nature watchers out on the ground that provide a lot of our data. In Redbridge, we have many recorders who regularly provide us with good quality data.This is entered into our Recorder database, often via GiGL, helping to inform planning decisions, feeding into management plans and helping to raise awareness about nature conservation in the borough.
There are plenty of enthusiastic non-specialists out there – people who can’t tell you which species of duck is represented by that tiny black spec miles above your head, but who are keen to tell you what they have seen in their garden or local park. If we tell them that this information will be fed into our database, and will ultimately end up at the biodiversity records centre for London, they continue to provide these useful ad-hoc snippets of wildlife information – encouraged by the value we place on their observations.
The spatial data that GiGL has recently been able to provide – species and habitat records that are tagged to locations and grid references – has been particularly useful. It provides an immediate picture of what the data shows. A curious result from Redbridge’s garden survey shows that no bats have been recorded south of the London to Ilford railway line. It also reveals distinct areas of the borough where people did not take part in the survey.This sort of information helps us focus our projects geographically and to identify which communities we would like to engage in future biodiversity projects.