NBN Sensitive Species Policy review

The NBN Trust has a responsibility to ensure that steps are taken to reduce the risk of environmental harm due to the release of sensitive data, while still maintaining as much access to data as possible. All data supplied to the NBN Atlas are displayed at the spatial resolution submitted by data providers, except records of species on the NBN Atlas sensitive species lists.  Sensitive species records will be supplied at the resolution chosen by the data provider, but will only be available publicly on the NBN Atlas (to view or download) at the spatial resolution detailed on the sensitive species list (a resolution at which the risk of harm to a species is considered acceptable). As of 2018, date information is no longer reduced in quality. Access to higher resolution sensitive species records can be available via the NBN Atlas upon request to the data provider.

The NBN sensitive species policy, as published in 2018 after the launch of the NBN Atlas, stated that it would be reviewed annually.

2019 Review

The NBN Trust reviewed the policy this year and has decided, after consultation with the individual nature conservation bodies, to continue to use the sensitive species lists as supplied by each country’s nature conservation body. This is due in part to the amount of work required to liaise with the different organisations to agree any changes.

The NBN Trust will continue to use the UK and Isle of Man Agency lists (i.e. Scottish Natural Heritage, Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and Manx National Heritage), which are based on specific sensitivities in each country. The NBN Trust will assist and support data providers and other interested parties in requesting changes to the individual country lists to each country Agency.  Please contact the NBN Trust (support@nbn.org.uk) if you would like to discuss submitting a request for changes to the sensitive species lists.


Depending on the requirements of our users, the NBN Trust is looking to implement the following changes:

  1. Opting-out : Data partners will be able to opt-out of individual records that they supply being blurred if they feel that the locality or lifecycle of the individual record is not sensitive. Any opting-out will be done on a record by records basis.
  2. Seasonal and life stage sensitivity : Many species are only sensitive at certain times of the year or during specific life cycle stages e.g. breeding. The sensitive species lists may therefore define a date range within which the species’ location must be blurred. All records for species outside of that date range will be available at the full supplied resolution.  Currently, if a species is considered sensitive, its locality is blurred continuously, regardless of the season.

The NBN Sensitive Species Policy has been updated to state that the changes described above may be implemented.

View the updated NBN sensitive species policy

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