Julie Cox, GiGL Partnership Officer
The 18th National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Conference was held in November. The GiGL team made their way to Nottingham to benefit from two days of talks on the theme of “the NBN in a changing climate”.
The conference is always an enjoyable event in our calendars. It was a diverse programme with speakers from a wide range of sectors; the chance to meet with colleagues from all across the recording spectra is one of the huge benefits of the event. Whilst recording in London is different in many ways to recording in more remote rural areas of the UK hearing from projects in dissimilar environments can inspire us to think ‘outside of our norm’. For example, Martin Lines from the Nature Friendly Farming Network detailed how wildlife recording on his Cambridgeshire farm is helping to improve his landholdings for biodiversity, without a detrimental effect on yields. Is there more we could be doing to engage with Greater London’s farmers?
Citizen science featured heavily; from advice on what outputs can, and can’t, usually be obtained from projects, to how best to design sampling protocols so that data are more usable, to making the most of all engagement opportunities, whether they appear positive at the outset or otherwise. All speakers emphasised the value of citizen science projects in generating data, as long as they are backed up by scientific expertise. Dr. Sara Goodacre’s presentation on her experiences using spiders as tools to engage diverse audiences and challenge public perceptions was a stand-out talk. She’s worked with the media to share some of her work, including ‘spider sailing’; there is a short video of Sara explaining this phenomenon on the BBC website. GiGL’s citizen science project to digitise historic bird records is still going strong. We thank anyone with a bit of spare time for getting involved.
This year’s Sir John Burnett Memorial Lecture was given by Professor Jane Memmott, of the University of Bristol. In her talk surrounding ecology and conservation at the community level she was very strong in asserting the importance of collaboration between academics, conservation practitioners and taxonomists. We need fieldwork and theory together. Local Environmental Records Centres, like GiGL, are perfectly placed to facilitate these relationships.
The NBN Atlas, of course, also featured. This included outlining some of the atlas’ future plans, such as an automated data (layer) harvester. The conference also provided the stage for BTO (The British Trust for Ornithology) to announce that Local Environmental Records Centres will be allowed to use BTO CC-BY-NC data on the atlas. This is fantastic news as the BTO are one of the atlas’ biggest species data providers. GiGL uploaded our first open (CC-BY) dataset onto the NBN Atlas this autumn. Read more about this tree dataset.