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Sharing surveillance strategies

News Item 2018

Sharing surveillance strategies

JNCC supports an extensive programme of terrestrial biodiversity monitoring and surveillance. Working with partners – and through them, the thousands of skilled volunteers who collect the data – the programme aims to provide an overview of how UK species and habitats are faring, and allows us to investigate causes of change.

In 2017, JNCC created the UK Terrestrial Evidence Partnership of Partnerships (UKTEPoP) to bring together these partners. It’s a mechanism to share guidance and facilitate communication and experience to help find cost-effective solutions to providing the evidence needed to support Government conservation activities.

A common problem discussed at the last UKTEPoP meeting related to gathering data in remote areas. Counts made by volunteers provide invaluable information about many habitats and species, but remote areas such as the Scottish uplands typically receive fewer visits than those in more populous or lower-lying areas.

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) shared how it has been tackling this problem in the BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey, which monitors UK bird populations via biannual visits by volunteers to randomly selected 1-km squares.

Since 2010, its Upland Adjacent scheme has made best use of volunteers’ time in the field through having the 1-km squares surveyed in pairs (one randomly located main square plus one adjacent square). More recently, it introduced the Upland Rover scheme, through which volunteers can undertake one-off visits to a selection of the more remote Breeding Bird Survey squares. This gives volunteers a great reason to explore new areas while contributing important information.

Plantlife was similarly ready to share the approach they have developed for extending the reach of the National Plant Monitoring Scheme (a joint initiative between the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, JNCC and Plantlife) into remote areas. This has involved setting up regional hubs with National Parks, reserves and local records’ centres to encourage new volunteer surveyors to participate in the scheme.

JNCC and its partners are very grateful for the dedication and skills of volunteer citizen scientists, and the data they collect, which is so critical to our knowledge of UK biodiversity. The benefits to the volunteer community are also of great value, by supporting active outdoor lifestyles while encouraging knowledge of the natural environment on the doorstep.

 

Contact:  Julie Day

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