Position Statement on Local Records Centres
This statement originated as a request in 2002 from the National Biodiversity Network Trust’s (NBN Trust) LRCs Steering Group to the National Federation for Biological Recording (NFBR) to define the essential nature of a Local Records Centre (LRC), to describe its functions and its relationship with the NBN Trust. It has been developed with contributions from a wide range of partners. In particular, it draws on the work of the Linking LRCs Project, 1998-2001, led by the Wildlife Trusts for the NBN Trust. In particular the functions have built on two products of that project – “Running a Local Records Centre, Volumes 1 and 2” and “Proposals for a Accreditation System for Local Records Centres”. (See business tools in useful things for these documents)
The statement commences with a working definition of a Local Records Centre and describes their role in terms of essential and enhanced functions. It aims to distil the definition of a LRC in terms of its functions in order to provide an agreed clear and succinct statement of the concept for the benefit of NBN partners, stakeholders, funding bodies and others. In addition, the current position of LRCs within the NBN is summarised and the relationship between the NBN data exchange principles and LRC business models clarified.
The definition relates to biodiversity information. It is recognised that this represents the minimum scope of LRC coverage and that some may hold information relating to geological, historical and other attributes. The geographical area covered may be a sub-region or region as well as the traditional county or equivalent scale. For coastal LRCs the extent of coverage in the marine environment needs to be agreed with local partners.
‘A Local Records Centre (LRC) is a not-for-profit service run in partnership for the public benefit, which collects, collates, manages and disseminates information of known quality relating to the wildlife, wildlife sites* and habitats for a defined geographical area.’**
* The use of the term “wildlife sites” here is NOT restricted to sites of recognised nature conservation importance
** This definition was first proposed by Charles Copp (Environmental Information Management) during the accreditation project, was refined after consultation and has received widespread support.
Local Records Centres within the NBN
Local Records Centres
represent the local delivery of the NBN vision
promote NBN standards
link professionals with volunteers and data providers with data users
act as a focus for volunteer recording effort at the local level
disseminate biodiversity information held by local organisations throughout the NBN
are custodians of key NBN datasets
make biodiversity information accessible to users both through direct communication and through the Gateway
The NBN Data Exchange Principles state that biological data should be placed in the public domain wherever possible. They also recognise that users should expect to contribute to sustaining the collection, collation and management of the biological data. Local Record Centres (in common with many other data contributors) require the security of a long-term sustainable funding base in order for them to meet their users needs. They currently depend on their users contributing financially to the costs associated with data collation and management (often through Service Level Agreements).
LRCs provide a vital service to local data contributors and users and in many cases they are the local representation of the NBN. The NBN Trust will facilitate partnership initiatives that can build a stronger business case for LRCs as key components of the NBN and hence make a positive contribution to securing a more sustainable funding base for LRCs.
Functions*** of LRCs are here divided into two groups. The essential functions are those which every LRC is expected to perform. The enhanced functions are optional in the sense that each LRC will include a variable number of these within its operation, depending on local needs, stage of LRC development and funding availability. It is unlikely that any LRC will take on all of the enhanced functions.
*** The use of the term “function” in this paper is applied loosely to encompass functions, products and services together with some organisational characteristics which enable or modify functions
LRCs are in essence partnerships. For each of the essential functions the LRC will take prime responsibility for its geographical area on behalf of the partnership. For the enhanced functions the situation will be highly variable depending on local circumstances. For these enhanced functions the LRC may be the only body involved, it may be working closely with many of its partners in a defined role or it may have no involvement at all.