Being part of the Plan: Making data work for nature

Logo: NBN Trust

By Mandy Henshall, Communications and Engagement Manager, NBN Trust

This year’s International Day for Biodiversity is all about “being part of the plan”. This is a call to action for all stakeholders to collaborate to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity by supporting the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, also referred to as the The Biodiversity Plan. The National Biodiversity Network is built on collaboration, so it’s the perfect day to put out our own call to action to “be part of our plan”.

screenshot of iNaturalistUK website
iNaturalistUK - showing the number of observations to date.

National Biodiversity Network Trust

CJS readers are hopefully already aware of the National Biodiversity Network Trust (NBN Trust) as CJS is one of our Corporate Partners, but for those who don’t know us, we are a small, specialist charity which provides vital evidence for nature’s recovery in the UK. We build partnerships to meet the needs of those who require biodiversity data – for policies, planning, research and conservation – and to connect people and communities with nature.

Without the NBN Trust, much of the UK’s biodiversity data would remain unseen, unknown and unused. But we don’t work alone. Partnership is central to our mission, and for 24 years, we have connected organisations, large and small, through our National Biodiversity Network: a dedicated community of more than 200 organisations, who are passionate about wildlife data. Working together, we create a vast flow of data carrying the evidence needed to protect and restore biodiversity.

The NBN Trust’s mission over the next four years is to do even more to increase the volume, quality, accessibility, and impact of biodiversity data, to make sure that every record can play its part in restoring nature. If we are to succeed, now, more than ever, we need to work together to make sure that this vital data is collected, shared and used.

screenshot of iRecord website
iRecord - Explore all records map

The NBN Atlas – a vital resource

The NBN Atlas, our data portal, is the UK’s largest repository of publicly available biodiversity data and is one of the world’s largest online sources of this data. With more than 256 million records of over 51,000 UK species it is accessed by almost 20,000 registered users who, between them, download nearly a billion records a year. It’s a veritable treasure-trove of wildlife information, and an outstanding source of evidence for research and for making informed decisions about the natural environment. Our plan is to make it even better and to make the NBN Atlas a world-class tool for sharing and accessing biodiversity data.

Sharing data with the NBN Atlas

Any group or organisation can become an NBN Atlas data provider and share their records.

The species records shared on the NBN Atlas follow an internationally accepted format for biodiversity data - the Darwin Core standard. This not only aids sharing of records with other organisations, such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), of which the NBN Trust is the UK node, but also ensures efficient and effective filtering of standardised records, based on the requirements of the individual user. We also promote and support the adoption of the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) data principles.

The NBN Atlas team can guide new data providers on the formatting of their data in order for them to become data partners and we also have guidance for sharing data online.

Valuing and supporting citizen science as a major source of biodiversity data

Although some of the UK’s biodiversity data is collected by professional ecologists, most of it comes from a remarkable community of volunteer wildlife recorders, whose passion, skill and expertise cannot be stressed enough in contributing to our understanding of the UK’s biodiversity. The value of the data that comes from citizen science, or community science, is now also increasingly recognised by governments and funders.

Whilst the NBN Atlas doesn’t accept records from individuals or ad-hoc sightings, we champion citizen science for biodiversity data and are keen to ensure it makes the greatest possible difference for nature.

We therefore recommend that individual records are submitted through one of the online recording platforms, such as iNaturalistUK or iRecord. These two sites work in different ways, but records added to either system are available to National Recording Schemes, Local Environmental Record Centres and can be shared with the NBN Atlas.

You can find more information on these and other recording apps on the NBN Trust website.

screenshot of NBN Atlas website
NBN Atlas

Join us in our mission: Be part of our plan.

We passionately believe that, together, we can reverse the biodiversity crisis, but, if we’re to succeed in doing so, our decisions must be based on the most complete and highest-quality evidence. This is where the NBN Trust, our network and our members can truly make a difference.

We have big plans and we face many challenges but, importantly, we are not alone. Partnering with our nationwide network which includes conservation charities, statutory agencies, businesses and recording groups, we are making a unique contribution to nature’s recovery. As well as becoming a data partner for the NBN Atlas, we’d love you to join us in our mission to make data work for nature by becoming a member of the NBN Trust.

Whether you’re thinking of joining as an individual or an organisation, we need you to help us achieve our plan.

  • We need your voice, to help us be heard.
  • We need your collaboration, because together we can all achieve more for nature.
  • We need your subscription, to sustain and grow our small, but mighty team, and to make the NBN Atlas even better.

Our members do all this and more.

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. We’d love you to join too and become part of the UK’s largest partnership for nature where, together, we are making data work for nature.

Find out more about the NBN Trust

NBN Trust and NBN –
Join the NBN Trust -
NBN Atlas –
NBN Atlas Help Portal - - includes information on how to use the NBN Atlas and share data
Subscribe to our monthly electronic newsletter ‘Network News’
NBN Awards for Wildlife Recording – our annual Awards’ scheme
NBN Conference – information on our annual event
For help with sharing data -

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Posted On: 09/05/2024

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