Record it or lose it – why biological recording matters

Jonathan Fenn from the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) explains why recording the animal and plants species you see around you is vital to protecting the UK’s wildlife.

Aside from the personal reward of observing the birds, beetles and plantlife that nature has to offer, biological recording is an essential cornerstone of modern ecology and conservation.

The natural world is going through a period of change unprecedented in recent human history, as a result of factors like climate change, urbanisation and population growth. By regularly recording what species we see around us, we can monitor the health of an ecosystem, track changes in migration routes, measure declines in population numbers and notice if invasive species have appeared.

From data to decisions

This information is crucial for informing conservation efforts, providing scientists and government organisations with solid evidence on which species or habitats are struggling or thriving, and which may be in need of protection or monitoring.

Biological records have proven invaluable to conservationists for many years, helping to prevent the extinction of species from the New Forest Burnet Moth to the much-loved Red Kite in the UK. They have also allowed ornithologists to monitor in detail the effects of habitat destruction and climate change on breeding patterns and migration periods. Researchers are then equipped to respond by proposing suitable conservation measures, alleviating the pressures on some of the most vulnerable species and mitigating some of the disruptions caused to their populations thus far. Such measures can include expansions of nature reserves and encouraging growth of suitable habitat.

The great thing about biological recording is that anybody can contribute - from complete beginners noting what birds appear in their garden, to seasoned naturalists who explore the breadth of the country to find rare species. By collecting all this biodiversity data from across the country, we are in a much better position to preserve the UK’s wildlife for generations to come.

Most biological recorders across the country do so purely for their love of nature rather than for any recognition, and as such their crucial work is often overlooked. But here at the National Biodiversity Network we want to change that.

That’s why we teamed up with the National Forum for Biological Recording and the Biological Records Centre in 2015 to create a series of annual awards to celebrate the individuals, the newcomers and the groups of people or organisations that are making outstanding contributions to biological recording and improving our understanding of the natural world in the UK.

Nominate someone for the 2017 UK Awards for Biological Recording and Information Sharing

All too often the painstaking work that individual and groups of biological recorders undertake is not publically recognised. So help us put that right, and nominate your unsung hero.

Nominating someone couldn’t be simpler, just fill in a short form explaining how your nominee is making an exceptional contribution in the world of UK biological recording.  You can even nominate yourself! Find out more

Nominations close on 31 July, so please don’t leave it too late.