Using Data to Save Nature

Using Data to Save Nature

Ryan Clark tells us about two exciting projects that will use vast amounts of data to tell us more about how wildlife is faring in our area - a local State of Nature report and a database of all species recorded on our reserves.

One of our core values is that 'conservation depends on local knowledge and good science', both are essential parts to remain evidence-based in our approach to conservation. We are recognised as evidence champions and alongside a team of dedicated volunteers, carry out a range of standardised monitoring techniques on our reserves.

Britain has a long history of more ad-hoc monitoring through the generation of biological records. Biological records tell us which species are found where and when. Alongside standardised monitoring they are a key component of evidence-based conservation. The Wildlife Trust BCN hosts three records centres who hold over 5 million records between them. We are just starting on two very exciting projects which will analyse biological records for the counties to inform conservation in the future.

Monitoring Water Beetles - Kevin Rowley

Recording which species are present in which areas is of vital importance to see how they are faring and to inform conservation measures. Photo: Kevin Rowley

BCN State of Nature

The series of national State of Nature reports highlight the plight of our wildlife in the UK. Alongside this, we must understand how wildlife is faring at a local level. Through data analysis and case studies we will be reporting on the state of nature in the Beds, Cambs and Northants area, the breadth of wildlife that our area supports and the key challenges our species and habitats face.


How many species do our reserves support?

Biological records are essential to inform the management of our reserves. We manage over 100 reserves and use biological records to inform our management of the sites. This project will look at this data in more depth and we hope to find out the total number of species recorded on or reserves so far. This data will then help to inform management plans in novel ways and highlight gaps in our knowledge.

The pantaloon bee, Dasypoda hirtipes, requires bare earth on heathland in which to nest

The pantaloon bee, Dasypoda hirtipes, requires bare earth on heathland in which to nest. It is abundant on some areas of Coopers Hill nature reserve in Bedfordshire. Photo: Ryan Clark

How you can help

The vast variety of records are generated by volunteer biological recorders who go out in their own time and record the species they find. Every species counts, we don’t just want to know about the rare species! Keep an eye on our blog to hear about the events we have coming up next year to help generate records on our reserves. If you would like more information about how to record your wildlife sightings then please take a look at my blog posts here, or drop me an email at


Find out more about your Local Records Centres


These projects have been made possible thanks to a generous legacy from Hubert Bean which is helping the Trust to ensure that our three counties are a haven for wildlife.