The value of biological records has increased in the past decade as planning authorities have to incorporate this environmental information into their decision making process, and the statutory bodies need to maintain an overview of trends and changes in response to climate change and policy initiatives to improve the quality of cities, towns, countryside and seas.
The majority of species information collected in the United Kingdom is through volunteer recorders. The focal point of this effort is either through an established national society or recording scheme or through a Local Record Centre (LRC). A critical part of biological recording is ensuring that the information included in each record is accurate in both identification and location. LRCs are well placed to undertake this work using local knowledge of sites and names and working with local experts. Most of the detailed habitat information for land outside designations is held by LRCs and often updated through the efforts of surveyors linked to LRCs. Though many parts of the UK have well established LRCs, others still lack full functionality, are in development phases or are absent altogether. Where they exist and function successfully they are a highly important link in biodiversity data flow, and are often critical in the provision of species and habitat data.
This research was commissioned on behalf of the UK country agencies, National Biodiversity Network Trust and National Federation for Biological Recording. The purpose was to undertake an objective, comprehensive survey of LRCs across the UK in order to identify the issues that are preventing the provision of biodiversity information to the decision makers and public through the establishment and maintenance of sustainable LRCs.