The UK government (through its conservation and environmental agencies), local government and non-government wildlife-related organisations all collect and use biodiversity data. One of the principal means of collation and interpretation of this data is the network of local records centres and at the national level, the Biological Records Centre that collates and interprets data from national recording schemes. This information is vital if we are to understand the distribution and abundance of species and habitats; without it, making informed decisions on how to protect the UK’s wildlife is much more difficult.
The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) is the public body that advises the Government on nature conservation. The JNCC has produced a list of UK species and their conservation designations. The local records centre for Oxfordshire is TVERC (Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre). TVERC have a total of 155,000 records of 82 different protected species plus 1,359 notable species in Oxfordshire. See their website for more information and to request access to this data. Much of this data is collected by volunteers, many of whom are experts in their field. Many of these groups collate species data for their own use and have up-to-date lists of plants and animals found in the county (such as the Oxfordshire Flora Group and Oxfordshire Mammal Group, see our Directory for more groups and how to join them). Some of the groups are carrying out targeted surveys to establish whether species recorded in the past are still present, such as the Lost and Found Fungi project (visit their Oxfordshire page here).
The National Biodiversity Network (NBN) captures wildlife data once it is in a standard electronic form; integrates data from different sources; and uses the internet to enable data to be used many times in different ways by as many people as possible. One way in which the data is made available is through the NBN Gateway. The NBN Gateway quite simply acts as a “data warehouse” for biodiversity information, which can be quickly and easily accessed to understand the distribution of particular species in the UK. Individual records, covering plants, mammals, birds and invertebrates, are stored on the NBN Gateway and these can then be displayed on a map of the UK in a number of different ways.