The Current Position of the National Biodiversity Network Trust on the Nature and Desirable Activities of Local Records Centres
Introduction to the Statement from our late Chairman, Sir John Burnett
The attached Position Statement is being widely distributed to those concerned for, or interested in, the maintenance and further development of a network of LRCs to provide the kinds of biodiversity information and associated services needed by all those concerned for, and interested in, the wild life of a local area/region, and for its conservation and conservation-informed planning. It is not a NBN Standard but rather a considered collection of reasonable aspirations that represent the current view of the Trustees. It is liable to modification in the light of any future developments or as a result of further discussion
The Trustees hope, therefore, that this working paper will promote further constructive discussion about the adequate maintenance and improvement of existing LRCs as well as the establishment of new ones, and of the functions for which they should be responsible. They will be glad to receive ‘feedback’ either individually or collectively to the NBN Secretariat or to its website
From the outset, the National Biodiversity Network Trust (NBN Trust) has always envisaged that Local Records Centres (LRCs) should be incorporated as important, interconnecting foci for the collection, collation and provision of regional or sub-regional biodiversity information. That LRCs should collaborate with the many other kinds of local record holders in their respective catchment areas goes without saying.
Existing LRCs operate under very considerable constraints and different kinds of problem face them in different areas. Sadly, the majority of existing LRCs operate with inadequate funding, and/or lack of adequate equipment and staffing for the many activities which they perform or should perform. In addition, others have problems of coverage, especially in sparsely ‘recorder-inhabited’ areas while inadequate contacts with recording organizations and individuals are also a handicap. The existing LRC network is far from operating optimally and geographical coverage still far from complete. Extended discussion continues as to how a truly effective a network can be achieved and who should maintain it.
The NBN Trust is concerned to promote and facilitate every aspect of LRC operation and development and believes that mutual benefits arise from their active collaboration with LRCs. This collaboration has resulted in the clarification of some of the basic issues in earlier joint Wildlife Trust/ NBN Trust publications, ‘Running a Local Records Centre, Vols 1 & 2,’ and ‘Proposals for an Accreditation System for Local Records Centres’. But a major deficiency has been the lack of a clear definition of what a LRC is and what it should do so that potential funding sources have not realized clearly the benefits that might accrue from the development of an effective LRC in an area, let alone the additional value of a network of LRCs.
Nevertheless, this has not impeded discussion as to the range of activities for which an ‘ideal’ and effective LRC should be responsible and the NBN Trust has promoted wide discussions within its LRC Steering group, with concerned Local Authority representatives, by members of the National Federation for Biological Recording, and others. Slowly a consensus based on present practice and future needs is developing. The Trustees felt that the time had come to provide a working definition of what is meant by an LRC and what activities it might reasonably be expected to carry out; hence the attached document.
In concluding, the Trustees express their thanks to their LRCs Steering group and its present chairman, Mr. Bill Butcher, who has been responsible for collating the widespread and prolonged discussions that underlie the conclusions set out and fully endorsed by the Trustees in this Statement.
John Burnett, Chairman NBN Trust 6th April 2004