In the UK there is an enormous amount of biodiversity information that has been gathered over the years by all sorts of organisations and individuals.

Most of these people are volunteers who organise themselves through many national and local societies and recording schemes. The UK government (through its conservation and environmental agencies), local government and non-government wildlife-related organisations all collect and use biodiversity data. One of the principal means of collation and interpretation of this data is the network of Local Environmental Records Centres and at the national level, the Biological Records Centre that collates and interprets data from national recording schemes.

This information is vital if we are to understand the distribution and abundance of species and habitats; without it, making informed decisions on how to protect the UK’s wildlife is much more difficult.

What happens to the information?

Information is held by many different organisations and the individuals who collect it in a variety of formats, from computer databases to handwritten record cards. This means that although a huge amount of information exists, it isn’t always easy to access.  The National Biodiversity Network (NBN) idea could not be simpler: capture wildlife data once in a standard electronic form; integrate data from different sources; and use the internet to enable data to be used many times in different ways by as many people as possible.

One way in which the data is made available is through the NBN Atlas.  The NBN Atlas quite simply acts as a “data warehouse” for biodiversity information, which can be quickly and easily accessed to understand the distribution of particular species in the UK. Individual records, covering plants, mammals, birds, invertebrates and marine life, are stored on the NBN Atlas and these can then be displayed on a map of the UK in a number of different ways.

Go to the NBN Atlas