How do we know if our conservation efforts are working, or not working? And what is it that alerts us that a particular species needs help because its numbers are declining? Information and data are the answers of course and that’s where the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) plays a vital role.

Collecting information relies on the goodwill and commitment of individuals and groups of people getting together and actually counting the species they find in a particular location – be that urban or rural. Very often these valiant wildlife recorders are counting species in their spare time as volunteers, and their hours of hard work – out in all weathers, year after year – goes largely unacknowledged.

The wildlife information these people gather finds its way via various routes (for example through national wildlife surveys, biological recording schemes or a Local Environmental Records Centre – LERC) to the NBN Atlas, which is managed by the National Biodiversity Network (NBN).


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Above: Home page of 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 can be used by anyone, free of charge and is the largest UK-wide collection of multiple sources of information about species and habitats; it allows users to examine and map these data. It currently holds in excess of a staggering 223 million records across 45,500 species – everything from ladybirds, red squirrels and toads through to lichens, fungi and insects. And what’s more the information is freely available for use, subject to licence conditions of course.

It is by looking at these data, collected by the wildlife recorders, that we can tell if conservation activities are succeeding or not. So, the work of wildlife recorders is vitally important! You’ll therefore be pleased to hear that there is a way of recognising and celebrating our wonderful wildlife recorders, and one that you can get involved withyou can nominate someone for a NBN Award for Wildlife Recording.

Developed in 2015, in partnership with the National Forum for Biological Recording and the Biological Records Centre, these annual NBN Awards honour the outstanding contributions made by individuals and groups to wildlife recording. This is what is helping to improve our understanding of the natural world in the UK and enabling robust, evidence-based, environmental decisions to be made.

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Above: Some of the winners of the 2018 NBN Awards

If you know someone exceptional who is recording wildlife either as an individual or within a nature group, please nominate them for an NBN Award for Wildlife Recording. There are five categories of awards:

  • NBN Award for Wildlife Recording – Terrestrial (open to individuals 21 years +)
  • NBN Award for Wildlife Recording – Marine (open to individuals 21 years +)
  • NBN Group Award (no age restrictions)
  • NBN Young Person’s Award (open to individuals aged 11-20)
  • NBN Newcomer Award (open to individuals 21 years +)

Nominating someone for an award couldn’t be simpler – and you can even nominate yourself! Just visit: and complete the appropriate Awards Nomination Form either online or email it back to by Sunday 11 August 2019.

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Above: Bee identification in the field, with tutor Ian Cheeseborough. Photo: © Pete Boardman

This year’s NBN Awards for Wildlife Recording have been made possible by the generous support of:

  1. Opticron for sponsoring prizes for the NBN Young Person’s Award and the NBN Newcomer Award.
  2. Ceri Leigh for sponsoring prizes for the NBN Award for Wildlife Recording – Terrestrial and the NBN Award for Wildlife Recording – Marine.
  3. Field Studies Council (FSC) for sponsoring a prize for the NBN Group Award.
  4. Nature Photographers Ltd for sponsoring prizes in all the Award categories.
  5. William Collins for sponsoring prizes in all the Award categories.
  6. British Wildlife magazine for sponsoring a prize for the NBN Newcomer Award.
  7. Natural History Book Service for sponsoring a prize for the NBN Young Person’s Award.

So, as a reader of the NPL Second Nature blogs, what are you waiting for?  If you know some wildlife recorders worthy of an NBN Award, please nominate them by Sunday 11 August.  Thank you!