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The National Biodiversity Network - Sharing Information about Wildlife

National Biodiversity Network

It is estimated that up to 60,000 people routinely record biodiversity information in the UK.  Most of this effort is voluntary and is organised through about 2,000 national societies and recording schemes.  The government, through its agencies also collects biodiversity data and one of the principal elements for the collation and interpretation of this data is the network of Local Records Centres.

The National Biodiversity Network (NBN) is a collaborative venture committed to making this information available, including on the internet via the NBN Gateway   http://data.nbn.org.uk  the data search web site of the NBN.

The NBN Trust, the organisation facilitating the building of the Network, supports agreed standards for the collection, collation and exchange of biodiversity data and encourages improved access. By engaging with its membership (the present partnership consists of almost 40 public and voluntary organisations) and other non-member organisations, it is able to draw upon a broad range of skills and resources needed to develop an effective Network. 

The NBN Gateway currently holds over 25 million records from 209 different datasets.

Data on the Gateway can be accessed by anyone interested in UK wildlife and can be searched at many different levels as it allows you to view distribution maps and download the data by using a variety of interactive tools.  For instance, you can look at a specific area at Ordnance Survey grid map level or you can select one of the vice counties.  All records are available at least at 10km scale and many at 2km or 1km, some are also available at 100m resolution (or better) although usually you must be registered and logged in to see these.  You can also select a series of dates to customise the maps and show changes in a species’ distribution.

By providing tools to make wildlife data accessible in a digitised and exchangeable form and by providing easy access to the information people need, we believe that wise and informed decisions can be made to ensure our natural environment is diverse, rich and sustainable now and for future generations. 

Visit http://data.nbn.org.uk to access wildlife data or www.nbn.org.uk for more information on the Network.

Updated information January 2017

The NBN Gateway, which launched in 2004 is one of the largest wildlife databases in the world.   
This online resource has grown rapidly, from its prototype beginnings when 100,000 records were available in the late 1990s, to 20 million records in 2006, 50 million in 2010, 100 million in 2014 and now, at the end of 2016, to over 130 million species records from across the United Kingdom.  The NBN would like to thank all its data partners that have made this possible.
With this number of species records it has become necessary to review the underlying database to ensure it is able to cope with the demands of an increasing number of records for years to come.  To that end, the NBN Atlas is being developed to become the new biodiversity data infrastructure for the entire United Kingdom and will replace the NBN Gateway in 2017.  The NBN Atlas Scotland (www.als.scot) is already available, with further enhancements being made on an ongoing basis. Country wide portals for England, Wales and Northern Ireland are being developed through 2017 / 2018.

Membership of the NBN, at December 2016, consists of over 160 public and voluntary organisations.

First published in CJS Focus on Wildlife Conservation and Research in association with The Wildlife Trusts on 21 May 2007