London’s community of biological recorders are pivotal to the GiGL partnership. Volunteer recorders and recording societies are GiGL’s biggest source of new species records. To celebrate some of our city’s wonderful recorders we’re beginning a new regular feature to showcase their work. We begin with Nathalie Mahieu who is inspired by all manner of species, but is particularly focused on birds. She tells us about her work at Margravine Cemetery and monitoring peregrine falcons at Charing Cross Hospital. We also have a progress update from GiGL volunteer David Allen, who has been working tirelessly on inputting London Natural History Society’s bird data and has now progressed to the LNHS botany records.
While our day-to-day tasks are centred on biological recording in Greater London, GiGL also plays a role in the UK-wide recording community, through our relationship with the Association of Local Environmental Records Centres (ALERC) and the National Biodiversity Network (NBN). We take an active role in these groups’ email advice and discussion forums as well as holding key roles in some of their working groups. Mandy, GiGL’s CEO, is on the board of both ALERC and the NBN and on ALERC’s business development and national coordinator management groups and NBN Atlas Steering Group; while Maria, GiGL’s Community Manager, sits on ALERC’s data flow working group and the NBN’s captivating and engaging people working group.
Our involvement is year-round, but attendance at the ALERC and NBN conferences are always annual highlights, with the whole recording community coming together to share news, advice and project inspiration.
ALERC provides a communal voice for the records centre community and acts as an important centralised resource on best practice. Maria gives us a review of this year’s ALERC conference which focused on innovation and opportunity.
The NBN has had a busy year developing the new NBN Atlas which will replace the current NBN Gateway. The theme for their 2016 conference was ‘Going with the flow: Supporting the NBN Data Flow Pathway’. GiGL has spent time this year looking at the pathways along which London data flows to and from us, so this was very topical. Louise summarises the key messages from the NBN conference.
Our final director’s interview is with our CEO Mandy Rudd. She tells us how her love of wildlife recording has been nurtured from childhood and how one of her very first tasks piqued an ongoing interest in one of London’s most iconic beetles. As both a director and staff member, Mandy’s interview provides a handy segue into our upcoming series of staff interviews. We also provide another couple of “show and tell” examples of how partners have been using their Service Level Agreements with us: mapping green and ecological corridors and auditing available data.
GiGL have been involved in two innovative projects this year, both of which have the potential to provide huge benefits to London’s natural environment. Development is one of the primary impacts on biodiversity. Whilst the London Plan requires that development avoids negative impacts on biodiversity, and where possible makes a positive contribution, currently ecological data searches are used to support less than one percent of planning applications in the Greater London area. Katherine Drayson, from the Greater London Authority, tells us about research that has been undertaken to determine what percentage of developments should be commissioning ecological data searches and outlines plans to improve the situation.
As part of a UK-wide partnership, GiGL have been involved in a project to explore developing a tool to provide interpreted high quality information for assessing and acting on ecosystem services in cities. We not only lead a London case study, but also created a new standard typology for green infrastructure for use in the project. Bill Butcher, the project’s co-ordinator, gives us a summary of the tool and hopes for its future.