So there we have it. Another year, another NBN conference and what a fantastic couple of days it turned out to be. The National Biodiversity Network (NBN) is a charitable organisation committed to the exchange of biodiversity data and ensuring that it is readily available for users via the NBN Atlas. It is very much a collaborative partnership between biological recorders, voluntary groups, Local Record Centres (LRCs), charities and government bodies who all play a role in generating and utilising the ecological information. The NBN is one of the partners for the Identification Trainer’s for the Future Project at the Natural History Museum, and across the three years trainees have been out in force.
This year on the 16th & 17th November, the National Museum Cardiff hosted the conference, with over 180 delegates gathering to discuss biodiversity data and biological recording. Every year, the conference pulls together a wide range of expertise, knowledge and experience from all across the UK, ranging from biological recorders to government bodies and a good show from the LRC’s in between. There is one common interest that unites all of these individuals: data. This proved highly convenient, as this year’s theme was “Data – what is it good for?”.
Well, apparently data is good for quite a lot. It turns out data is pretty important – who would have thought it? Science is paramount for successful conservation. Projects that are underpinned by biological evidence, derived from rigorous scientific study prove an extremely powerful tool to plan and implement the most effective strategies to protect vulnerable species and ecosystems. Accurate biodiversity and environmental information is crucial to ensure that biological data grounds the decisions made by policy makers.
Over the two days, there were a wide range of presentations, workshops and thought-provoking discussions, with 25 speakers covering a variety of subjects on the local, national and international scale. Topics covered citizen science, recording schemes/societies, future training opportunities and how the UK biodiversity data can be utilised both nationally (NBN) and globally (Global Biodiversity Information Facility – GBIF).
Alongside the presentations, the NBN took full advantage of the expertise in the room, facilitating discussion across five different workshops in order to generate actions to take forward. These ranged from looking for ways to develop the NBN Atlas, streamlining the data flow pathway and how to further encourage data sharing. The annual UK Awards for Biological Recording and Information Sharing ceremony also took place, acknowledging the stupendous efforts made by both individuals and organisations within the biological recording community.
Overall it was a brilliant two days, which provided an unparalleled opportunity for networking, hearing about ways of getting involved and new projects on the horizon. For me, this is the third NBN conference I have attended. I first heard about the ID Trainer position at the NBN conference in 2015 and there was no doubt in my mind that this traineeship had my name written all over it. Unfortunately, by this time, I had just missed the application for the second cohort, so it was a waiting game and a period of mass preparation for the third round to open. By the second NBN conference in 2016, I had submitted my application and knew I had been selected for interview. I nervously met my soon to be line manager and introduced myself to the second cohort of trainees. Now here I am, sitting reminiscing whilst writing this blog.
Attending the three NBN conferences has proved such a fantastic experience over the years. It is so inspiring to be surrounded by and involved with such a proactive and dedicated community who contribute to safeguarding and protecting the UK’s natural environment in one way or another. I am excited to see the NBN moving forward and building upon everything that has been achieved by the Network throughout the duration of the conference.
On behalf of all the ID Trainers, I would like to say a huge thank you to the NBN for delivering another fantastic conference and for the continued support with the traineeship. I look forward to making an appearance next year.
Written by April Windle, ID Trainer, ID Trainers for the Furture