Written by Neil Hodges, NBN Trust Chair
I took over from Michael Hassell as Chair at the February board meeting. It is always difficult to step into the shoes of someone who has been so successful in a role and Michael has certainly been that. The introduction of the NBN Atlas in 2017 and overseeing implementation of the ambitious 2015-20 NBN Strategy would be evidence enough, but last year’s NBN Conference illustrated for me the strength and depth of the expertise within the Network and the crucial importance of quality biodiversity data being available to academia, government, miscellaneous industries such as farming and fishing, and beyond. With NBN at the heart of the provision of such data, Michael can be proud of his legacy.
NBN is part of the rich history of biological recording in the UK. It has over 200 members, 141 data partners, over 200m species records spanning five centuries. Its members include some of the most important voices for nature. As such there is a foundation of strength, but that comes with a high level of responsibility and statistics alone are not enough. NBN must also be a leader in ensuring biodiversity data is used effectively in decision making for the benefit of nature.
We need to be constantly testing our ambition and ensuring we have a sustainable model that means NBN remains a robust, progressive and pioneering organisation that supports its many stakeholders. I know fellow board members and the NBN team are up for that challenge and from the conversations I have had so far with members of the Network I am confident that any challenges can be met if we maintain a relentless focus on effective collaboration. The inaugural Stakeholder Group meeting in January reinforced that view.
I would like to add what a privilege it is to have Sir John Lawton as our new patron. With his passion for nature and clear sighted views on wildlife conservation, his contributions will be greatly appreciated. On re-reading his important “Making Space for Nature” report for DEFRA, it struck me that perhaps the four key words drawn out in that report to illustrate what needs to be done to enhance the resilience and coherence of ecological networks could be applied equally to where NBN needs to be in terms of biodiversity data, its quality and the need for collaboration: ”more, bigger, better, joined”.
On behalf of NBN, thank you Michael for your successful period of Chairmanship. It is a privilege to take over the role and I look forward to meeting, working with and learning from those involved in the world of biodiversity data during my tenure.
You can read more about Neil on the NBN Board page