Joint NBN Trust Honorary Membership 2018

Whilst it is usual to put forward only a single nominee, this year we received a joint nomination for two outstanding individuals.

These two individuals have made valuable contributions whilst working apart, but their collaboration over twenty plus years has been enormously important for the wider NBN in many ways.

They have both been members of the Linnean Society’s Taxonomy & Systematics Committee for many years and have helped to maintain the Linnean Society’s early interest in biological recording. This dates back to their giving a presentation on the importance of the biological recording pyramid, with very few individuals progressing from the simplest levels of casual recording through to the level of county or national recorder and the implications this had for recording schemes and societies (and local records centres) as well as for mentoring and training.

The collaboration, steered by them, between the Field Studies Council and the University of Birmingham (and, latterly, Manchester Metropolitan University) has resulted in hundreds of students passing through Certificate, Diploma and Masters courses in biological recording. This has benefited volunteer recorders, professional surveyors, conservationists, consultants and local authority staff (to identify just a few) and those with whom they work, raising standards and helping to promote the value of and need for biological recording much more widely. Beyond that there are particular individuals who have passed through their hands who have had their own impact.

The module-based recording courses have undoubtedly encouraged the adoption of similar courses elsewhere and a further testament to their value has been the extent to which key individuals across the recording spectrum have been willing to present lectures on different topics. Additionally, it has provided taxonomic experts with the opportunity to tutor willing recorders from across the country and the need to ‘train the trainers’ has been an initiative which these two have pursued with vigour.

The 2018 Joint NBN Trust Honorary Membership goes to Dr Sarah Whild and Sue Townsend.

Sue Townsend and Dr Sarah Whild – joint NBN Honorary Members 2018 – with their certificates.

Dr Sarah Whild

Sarah has been a leading light within the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland for many years and has been tireless in her efforts to foster support for education and training, also (successfully) arguing that the National Forum for Biological Recording introduce a student membership fee (which has helped boost Forum member numbers). Of course, she was also one of the lead authors on the excellent Flora for Shropshire (and completed her PhD somewhere along the way too).

Dr Sarah Whild receiving her NBN Honorary Membership certificate from NBN Chairman, Prof Michael Hassell.

Sue Townsend

After long service as Head of Centre at Preston Montford, which also included setting up the first grant-funded projects to help fill not only gaps in invertebrate recording but gaps in expertise (and having by this time completed the Recording MSc herself), Sue persuaded the Field Studies Council to give her a new role as Head of Biodiversity. The most obvious result has been a series of major grant-aided projects, following on from Invertebrate Challenge: Tomorrow’s Biodiversity and, most recently, Biolinks which will have huge impacts across London and the West Midlands. Sue (and thus the FSC) has also supported other initiatives including the Natural History Museum’s ID Trainers. Moreover, she has also managed to influence the extent to which the FSC supports and engages with biological recording at and around its residential centres.

Sue Townsend receiving her NBN Honorary Membership certificate from NBN Chairman, Prof Michael Hassell.

Sue and Sarah’s positive influence continues with this year’s successful NFBR Conference, focussing on skills training being run jointly with the MMU and FSC. It also seems set to continue in diverse ways into the future.

Together Sarah and Sue have done so much to benefit UK wildlife recording much of which has been a direct result of their collaboration and what that has led to.

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