NBN Atlas December progress update

Following on from last month’s NBN Atlas Blog, which we hope you found both interesting and useful, we thought it would be timely to give you a further five things that NBN Atlas Scotland can do, this month focusing on the Spatial Portal.

The Spatial Portal can be found by selecting ‘Analyse’ on the top menu of any page in the NBN Atlas Scotland and is a powerful analysis tool for you to start exploring your data holdings and overlaying with others.


The spatial portal has two main sections on your screen, the map on the right, and your menu functions to the left.  If you want more space to view your map, just select the arrow next to ‘help’ to shrink the left hand menu.  Much like standard GIS platforms, you can add layers to the map, change your basemap, reorder your layers and change the name and colour in this left hand panel.  All of this is available once you have some data on your map so let’s get some of that on….

Add to Map

By using the ‘Add to Map’ button on the top left hand side of the page, you can begin the process of building your own bespoke map. You can add either species, areas or layers, to add preloaded datasets and boundaries. You have options to change the display style and colour of species occurrences, choosing between various grid square options and point display. Keep on selecting the ‘Add to Map’ button to add more information to your map.

You may have a bespoke list of species which you wish to map and instead of typing a single species into the ‘Add Species’ box, you can upload your species list by selecting ‘Create new species list’ in the ‘Add Species’ box.   Alternatively, you may wish to use one of the pre-loaded species lists already in the NBN Atlas Scotland, see below for more information on these lists and how you can get lists yourself for yourself or your organisation included in the NBN Atlas.

You can also add Spatial Layers.  Again this list is ever growing and if you have a layer you wish to be featured in the NBN Atlas Scotland, or subsequent Atlases please let us know and we can either source it for you and load it to the Atlas, or even better, send us the shapefile and we can load it straight away.

When adding Spatial Layers if you choose to draw a polygon, click where you want the first point to be on the map and draw a line with your cursor. Repeat the process until you have the area you require and then double click the mouse to finish, the area you have selected with then turn red.


The main ‘Tool’ we wish to draw your attention to this month is the ‘Area Report’ function. This function gives you information about the records found in a specific area, and gives you the option to download this report, as well as allowing you to drill down into each specific section of interest. The outputs are figures for a preselected area, such as the number of species/occurrences, how many Scottish Biodiversity List species are present, threatened species that are present, as well as a breakdown of taxon groups. You can use this tool by selecting an area of interest (by either zooming to an area on the map, drawing your own boundary (Add to map> Area), or selecting a predefined area (Add to map> Layers)), then going to ‘Tools’, selecting ‘Area Report’ and then specifying the area that you are interested in. The area report appears on-screen, and you are given the option to download it.


If the information you require is not already in the NBN Atlas Scotland, use the Import button to add your own information temporarily to the Spatial Portal.  You can add either a species list, or an area through this feature.   

We particularly wish to draw your attention to the preloaded species lists. Currently the system features five lists:

  • IUCN species for UK
  • RSPB Priority Species
  • Scottish Biodiversity List
  • SNH Sensitive Species list for Scotland
  • Scottish Rural Development Programmes

These will grow with time, and you can also add your own lists by selecting ‘Create new species list’. Next month we will show you how to load your own species lists into the NBN Atlas Scotland for them to appear for anyone to use throughout the Atlas.  However if you fancy a sneak preview, take a look here: http://lists.als.scot/public/speciesLists.

You can also import a Shapefile or KML file through ‘Import Areas’. This is all new functionality not previously available through the NBN Gateway.  

In other news…

Additional bugs and enhancements that have been made this month include:

  • The data partner tab on any species page now includes a simple table outlining contributing data partners, datasets, number of records and data licences assigned to the contributing data holdings
  • The number of occurrence records available in the Atlas are now visible on the search results return page
  • All geographic searches in NBN Atlas Scotland are now limited to just Scotland, so no more sneaky locations in London creeping into your searches!
  • We located a bug in the system which was stopping the ‘accepted names’ being displayed alongside synonyms in the search return pages. This has now been fixed, and all species names clearly display accepted names where the nomenclature has been updated over time.


Let us know what you think.

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