The National Biodiversity Network (NBN) - An introduction

logo: NBN

The National Biodiversity Network (NBN) is the UK’s largest partnership for nature. We are pleased to tell CJS readers more about the NBN, including who is part of the Network and what it does.

What is the National Biodiversity Network?

The National Biodiversity Network (NBN) is a collaboration of organisations committed to sharing UK wildlife data and making it readily accessible. It started in April 2000 and Network members range from government agencies, research bodies, local environmental records centres, conservation charities, commercial companies and volunteer wildlife recording groups that may be organised at a local or national level. Members include some well-known organisations, such as the Bat Conservation Trust, Friends of the Earth, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the National Trust, Butterfly Conservation and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, as well as lesser known groups such as Longhorn Beetle Recording Scheme, Riverfly Partnership and Outer Hebrides Recording Group, to name just a few.  As at December 2018 the Network has over 200 members.

NBN website screenshot
NBN website screenshot

The one thing that unites all members is their desire for the availability of high resolution and high quality wildlife data to provide a robust evidence base for environmental decision-making.  NBN Members and NBN Data Providers share biodiversity data via an online platform called the NBN Atlas.

In addition, the NBN convenes an annual two day conference and runs the UK Awards for Biological Recording and Information Sharing.  The Awards were developed in partnership with the National Forum for Biological Recording (NFBR) and the Biological Records Centre (BRC) to celebrate the achievements of the many individuals and groups who record wildlife.   

What is the NBN Atlas?  

The NBN Atlas launched in April 2017 as an online platform to engage and inform people about the natural history of the UK.  It replaced the NBN Gateway (which you may have heard of and used in the past) and is helping to improve biodiversity knowledge, opening up research possibilities and is a vital data discovery tool for environmental managers.

It is the largest UK-wide aggregation of multiple sources of information about species and habitats and provides the ability to interrogate and map these data in a single location.  It currently holds almost 220 million records across 43,000 species and these are available for use in accordance with specific licence conditions.

Simple map search (NBN)
Simple map search (NBN)

The many, divergent data providers and data users necessitate a platform where the availability and quality of the records are clear and understandable. Records are stored in the NBN Atlas following the Darwin Core standard, an internationally accepted format for sharing biodiversity data. This not only aids sharing of records with other organisations, such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) but also ensures efficient and effective filtering of standardised records, based on the requirements of the individual user.

Every record held on the NBN Atlas has:

  • A licence, which indicates the conditions under which the record may be used;
  • An identification verification status, indicating whether the record has been verified;
  • A location with accompanying resolution, allowing the user to determine the accuracy of that information.

It is possible to filter occurrence records by any, or all, of these attributes, making the search facility customisable to user needs.

How can I get involved?

There are many ways for you to get involved!

NBN Atlas screenshot
NBN Atlas screenshot

Take a look at the NBN Atlas – – to see how wildlife data can help your work or your interests.  If you have UK biodiversity data, you can share it via the NBN Atlas – the data still belong to you – and you choose how they may be used by others by deciding the appropriate licence-type to be applied to the data. You can find more information about sharing data, and on how to use the NBN Atlas, on the Documentation and Help Portal -

You can become a member of the National Biodiversity Network, subscribe to the monthly e-newsletter – “Network News” and attend the annual NBN Conference – as a member or as a non-member.  You can also nominate individuals or organisations in the UK Awards for Biological Recording and Information Sharing.

You can get involved with a local recording scheme and find out which organisations are in your area by searching the NBN database of surveys and recording schemes.  You can also add your own organisation’s details

You can donate to the NBN.  As a charity we rely on membership, sponsorship and donations to help fund our work, so every amount, large or small, helps us to facilitate the sharing of UK wildlife data

You can also follow us on social media to keep up to date with news from across the Network:

The easiest way to find out more about the NBN and its work is to visit the website: or phone: 0115 850 0177 and speak to a member of the NBN Secretariat.

We look forward to hearing from you!

CJS is proud to be a corporate supporter of the National Biodiversity Network. Find out more here

Updated information October 2021:

Data on the NBN Atlas is updated regularly and so the figures quoted in this article will have changed. Please visit for all the latest data and information.

The UK Awards for Biological Recording and Information Sharing were renamed in 2019 and are now known as the NBN Awards for Wildlife Recording. Further information on the NBN Awards and up to date information on the NBN and NBN Trust can be found at

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