The Covid-19 crisis has had an enormous impact on the world. It has exposed our vulnerabilities and how deeply connected (or disconnected) we are with nature. It has highlighted just how restorative nature is to our mental and physical health and that we have an unprecedented opportunity to reconnect with the natural world given the risks that lie ahead should we fail to safeguard it.
In the Environment Secretary’s speech on the 20th July, George Eustice set out his vision for a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. During this speech he questioned our ability to access “an accurate, centralised body of data on species populations”. He asked, “is there sufficient access to data and knowledge to know which species should be assessed?” and stressed that “if we can improve the baseline understanding of habitats and species abundance across the country in every planning authority, then we can make better decisions towards achieving our vision…”
The collective work of the SBIF Review feels more relevant than ever before. We have a vision and a route map to transform our biological recording infrastructure to secure a sustainable future for the many organisations that make up our unique, and invaluable network, ensuring species and habitat data are at the heart of all environmental decision making and inspiring a new generation of individuals to connect with, and care for our nature world.
Over the last few months, we have been working behind the scenes to progress the SBIF Review recommendations, aided by additional SNH funding (thank you SNH!) for the SBIF Development Officer for a further six months this year. With this focused capacity we are beginning to regroup with SNH and the Scottish Local Record Centre community to explore how we can align the services offered with those required by SNH to deliver their statutory duties.
We have also been supporting the Cabinet Office’s Geospatial Commission to develop a project to undertake a similar review of the biological recording landscape and needs in England. This project will explore whether the recommendations for Scotland can be applied in England as well and if not, what the recommendations for England should be instead.
Over the coming months we will keep you in the loop as we endeavour to make the most difference for the SBIF Community where we can. We will focus on facilitating the development phase that we need to get started – primarily through securing the resources necessary to take this forward. If you can offer either in-kind contributions or funding do contact Rachel Tierney in the first instance.
You can read more about our recent progress in our latest highlight report