Reflections on retirement from the NBN Trust 

Written by Christine Johnston

Having taken the decision to retire from the NBN Trust at the end of April 2021 I am grateful for this opportunity to take a moment for reflection.  I joined the NBN Trust in 2016 when my work for the Scottish Biodiversity Information Forum (SBIF) transferred over from my local environmental records centre.  At the records centre I had also been processing datasets into Recorder6 since 2010, so my involvement with the Network goes back more than a decade.  And in that time the most notable feature has been change.

There has been change in the way organisations and people within the Network connect, communicate, and interact with each other which has opened many different opportunities for sharing information and records.  There has been change with the technologies we currently use or would like to adopt with sometimes steep learning curves to navigate our way through.  All of this means more than ever it is important for us to stay connected and to continue to share knowledge and understanding within the Network.

I have worked on two significant projects that reflect and demonstrate change.  The first project has been the ongoing development of the family of NBN Atlases, with my particular focus being on the geographical and other spatial datasets that provide additional context for the species records.  The move from the NBN Gateway to the NBN Atlas in 2017 presented a massive change and learning curve for us all, but it was essential that it happened at that time.  Like all large database projects, the NBN Atlas requires constant development, and continued support from users will help ensure it meets the needs of the Network.

The second significant project has been working for the Scottish Biodiversity Information Forum and in particular contributing to the Review of Biological Recording Infrastructure in Scotland, which published its recommendations in November 2018.  This Review was only made possible because of the way many organisations and people within the Network connected, communicated, and interacted with SBIF, and because it was recognised that change is urgently required to support the biological recording infrastructure in Scotland.  Since publication, the recommendations have formed the basis for high-level funding discussions and at the time of writing it is looking hopeful that positive change will happen.  After more than four decades of discussion about how to do things better this is excellent news for Scottish recording.

Retirement does not really feel like the right word to describe leaving the NBN Trust!  Although I am finding it hard to think of myself as ‘retired’, more significantly, I know that I will continue to pursue current interests such as moth trapping and recording ancient trees, and so I will remain involved in recording and connected to the Network.  I suspect recorders never really ‘retire’.

Overall, it has been a great privilege to have worked for the NBN Trust Secretariat and I’d like to thank my colleagues and the Trustees, both past and present, for their support and kindness, and for the enjoyable times we have shared over the last few years.  I will miss you all and it is a great pity that we have been unable to meet in person for a night out!

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