The simple answer is “a massive amount” with much more still to go!
I have spent the majority of my first few months getting out and about all over the country to meet a wide variety of our members and partners. The two things that shine out above all else from these encounters is just how diverse our Network is and how passionate everyone involved is about biological recording and biodiversity.
This has reconfirmed my reasons for wanting to work for the NBN in the first place, I truly believe that the information the Network collects and shares is vital for providing as complete a picture as possible for the health of the UK’s natural world. Every piece of information that is recorded plays a part in informing and educating all of us, from the school kid to government policy makers, about the biodiversity of the village, town, city and country we live in. By sharing data we can investigate the health of ecosystems as a whole and provide a holistic view of our environment. And it is only by combining the knowledge of experts (both professional and “amateur”) that we can conserve and increase biodiversity in the UK at local, regional and national levels.
There are some exciting opportunities and a few challenges ahead for our network. The development of the NBN Atlas and it’s country specific portals is a fantastic opportunity for us to provide a biological information sharing infrastructure worthy of the extensive species data collected by the Network. The NBN Atlas will enable recorders and recording groups to display and analyse their data in conjunction with a myriad of spatial layers and mapping tools that will really make the data come alive. The user friendly and interactive website will also enable us to engage with the wider public, hopefully encouraging the next generation of biological recorders in the process.
The move towards more open data is one that will have to be negotiated carefully to ensure that we, as a Network, can embrace the change with as few detrimental effects as possible on our members and partners. Similarly, in the climate of shrinking pots of government funding, we need to work together to ensure that the value of biological data collected by volunteers is not taken for granted. It is only by doing so that we can continue the UK’s rich tradition of biological recording far into the future. We are also now moving into the post-Brexit landscape and we are yet to discover what that may mean for our environmental legislation and policies. We have to see this as an opportunity for the Network to play a role in ensuring that as we leave the EU the country’s environmental protection is strengthened not weakened.
I have also quickly learnt that the NBN Secretariat is a small, but highly dedicated, team which is also passionate about the NBN and improving the organisation so that we can support the Network to enable you to go out and do the things you are great at, such as recording biodiversity and engaging and training others in the wonder of our natural world. In order for us to do this, we need you all to play an active part in the Network, as we need to know your views in order to be able to represent them as we implement the NBN Strategy and Action Plan.
It has been a busy few months and there is still so much more for me to assimilate and so many more of you to meet. I hope that I will be able to welcome many of you to the NBN Conference in Edinburgh in November. We have some excellent speakers lined up and it is a great opportunity for you to meet the NBN Secretariat team and become more involved in the Network.
In the meantime, I, and the rest of the team, would be happy to hear from you with any questions, suggestions etc. you may have. But please note there is a good chance I will be on a train when you call!
Jo Judge, NBN Chief Executive