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Monitoring for nature recovery and local change

This resource library has been developed through a collaborative partnership between Defra, Environment Agency, Forest Research, Natural England and JNCC through the Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment (NCEA) programme. The library aims to provide methods and tools for anyone interested in monitoring species, habitats, and ecosystems locally, and serves as a guide to support setting up new initiatives through citizen or participatory science.

The methods and tools presented here aim to provide standards in local biodiversity monitoring. These are robust, scientifically supported methods designed to capture records that provide insight into the state of species and habitats, and how they change over time. Using these standards also allows comparability and interoperability, meaning results can be more easily compared to national or even other area trends, and records may contribute to broader analyses and understanding about nature recovery. The standards are designed to be appropriate for all recorders, including professional, but also recognize the huge interest and potential in volunteer recording, and therefore also contains resources to support citizen or participatory science initiatives.

This resource library will be expanding and changing over time to reflect the information and resources that become available and be guided by the feedback from the wider user community. We encourage you to use the resources available on these pages, and to re-visit the pages to see any new developments and additions. The resource was designed with the user in mind, and we want to continue to develop it together with you to make it as useful as possible. We want to hear of your experiences on using this resource and how it could be improved. Please send us any feedback, observations, critique, comments and suggestions via the Feedback form available at the bottom on this page.

The Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment (NCEA) Programme is a UK Government science innovation and transformation programme, which spans across land and water environments. It has been set up to collect data on the extent, condition and change over time of England’s ecosystems and natural capital, and the benefits to society. Partners that make up NCEA include JNCC, Natural England, Forest Research, Environment Agency and Kew.

Logo for the Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment (N C E A) programme


Survey methods and tools

Photograph of a group of three volunteers monitoring on a boat. One of them has a pair of binoculars and is looking into the distance.

The decisions we make in data collection profoundly impact our understanding of biodiversity. Selecting the appropriate survey method and recording tools is paramount to the success of biodiversity monitoring, and the understanding that is gained from it. The collection of survey protocols and training resources presented here are being developed to provide insight on how species and habitats are changing over time, relevant for those wanting to understand what is happening at the local or landscape level.

Find out more about survey methods and tools


How to set up new initiatives and contribute new data

Photograph of a group of 6 volunteers carrying out some monitoring. The group are in scrubland close to some trees. One of them is holding some monitoring equipment.

This resource pools together expertise of multiple partners and is designed for anyone considering setting up a citizen science survey and contributing to existing data. The page describes all the stages of setting up and running a successful biodiversity survey, and provides links to further advice and guidance.

Following the best practice outlined in this resource will help you to deliver a project that produces data of high relevance and quality for the purpose they are collected for, and that the datasets you create are findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR) so that when viewed alongside datasets from other surveys, they can benefit wider conservation aims.

Find out more about how to set up new initiatives and contribute new data.


More information and resources

Screenshot of the front cover of a JNCC Report on monitoring – JNCC Report 710 (Evaluating the potential to record habitat information for Earth observation through volunteer recording initiatives)

This section comprises of a list of links to useful resources, including papers and reports relevant to establishing a new citizen science survey or initiative.

Find out more about More information and resources



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