Wiltshire & Swindon Biological Records Centre is the county’s local environmental records centre. We collect, collate, manage, interpret and make available detailed information on the wildlife, sites, habitats and geology of Wiltshire & Swindon. We work with agreement holders, customers and the public to provide a range of data services.
WSBRC is supported in its work by local authorities, government bodies, non-governmental organisations, land managers, volunteer recording groups and others. We have been operating since 1975, initially from within the museum of the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society; then hosted from 1998 until present by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, a ‘not for profit’ organisation, at its main offices in Devizes.
As a member of the Association of Local Environmental Records Centres (ALERC), we are part of a national network of Local Environmental Records Centres (LERCs) across the UK. We are also a supporter member of the NBN
Why do we gather this information?
By bringing a variety of environmental information together and interpreting it, an overall picture of the status and distribution of different habitats and species becomes apparent. If this information is collected systematically over time, real changes in the health of our natural world can be monitored and accurately assessed. The data we hold plays a fundamental role in this, ensuring that important areas for biodiversity are taken into account when considering plans for new developments or change of land use.
Statutory agencies have legal responsibilities for regulating activities that may harm the natural environment, particularly where they might affect habitats, sites or species that are protected under UK or European legislation. WSBRC provides a ‘planning screen’ service for our local planning authorities that identifies applications where such considerations apply.
The information we provide also helps environmental organisations and land managers to target their activities more effectively – a vital consideration when resources are limited. Find out how the Environment Agency (EA) uses our data.
The skilled staff members also support a variety of projects and programmes utilising a range of data management techniques in tandem with mapping and data analysis software.
Where do our records come from?
Information on species, sites and habitats are gathered and interpreted from a wide variety of sources including published reports from ecological consultancies and researchers and commissioned surveys and data provided by other voluntary and statutory organisations; but most species records are collected by volunteers. These provide the majority of WSBRC’s species records and we support our local recorders by providing them relevant tools and guidance to promote good practice in biological recording.
A network of approved volunteer experts, the County Recorders, provide us with most specialist records and undertake records verification but we also rely upon general recorders to keep us up-to-date on what is happening in the county. After all, no-one starts off as an expert!