Data Chit-Chat: 2022 in a nutshell

written by Ellen Lee, Biodiversity Data Manager & Tables & graphs by Elizabeth Tatham, Biodiversity Data Assistant

As we’re approaching the end of another calendar year, I thought I’d take the time to summarise our species data year. It’s been a year in which we were noticeably short of staff in the first few months and all of us had to pitch in and cover roles that we would normally not be involved in. This was challenging in some ways, but also good in that it spread knowledge of what we do across the team. It’s very easy, especially when mostly working from home, to only see that part of TVERC “operations” that you are directly involved with. However, it meant that we haven’t been able to add quite the volume of records to the database that we’ve done in the previous few years. Below are a couple of graphs that illustrate this point.

The lefthand graph shows the number of records entered per year over the last 10 years. So far (up till the end of November 2022), we’ve added 354,005 records which is down on the highs of the last 2 years. The righthand graph shows the number of records as a function of the year they were recorded (not entered into the database). As you can see, we have a lag of between 3 and 4 years to mop up the majority of species records from any particular year. However, the general trend is very definitely in an upward direction which is good. In order to make the best decisions for wildlife, it’s important not only to have many good quality records, but they also need to be current. 50.5% of all TVERC’s species records have been added to the database in the last 5 years. Of these, 40% were also recorded in the last 5 years.

What are all these records of? Here’s a table summarising all the records in the database by taxon group:

It’s clear that the “big three” are birds, butterflies & moths and higher plants. We seem particularly short of fish (~0.5%), fungi (~0.3%) and lower plants (~0.6%) and records of all other invertebrate make up around half the butterfly and moth records. If you have records of any of the less well-covered groups that could help fill these gaps, then we’d love to hear from you!

At the moment, we are on track to receive more than 500 data sets in 2022. The graph below left shows where these data sets come from. As you’ll see, the majority (59.2%) are ecological reports and are provided direct by a combination of consultants, local authority ecologists or sourced from planning portals by TVERC volunteers. Although ecological reports represent the largest number of data sets, they don’t provide the greatest number of records because each report typically contains only a handful of records. They are the most important source of records of importance in the planning process though. The table below right shows how many individual sites have been recognised by TVERC in the two counties as being important for the “big 7” planning species.

However, at the end of the day, the greatest number of records is still provided by individual wildlife recorders and local wildlife groups, so a big thank you to everyone who has sent us data this year.

Your data is vital for:

  • Local authorities to discharge their legal planning and conservation duties and to help them take wildlife into consideration in their longer term strategic decisions
  • Statutory Agencies (e.g. The Environment Agency) to assist them in all aspects of their work that impinge on wildlife.
  • Professional ecologists working on behalf of clients wanting to develop land, to ensure that no laws are broken, appropriate mitigation is carried out and (hopefully) net gain for biodiversity achieved
  • Local residents to know what wildlife is in their area so that they can enjoy and help protect it
  • Wildlife recorders, so that they can better know where to enjoy and record wildlife
  • Wildlife charities to decide where and what to focus conservation on
  • Utility companies to understand the possible impact their work may have on wildlife

So finally, a very happy new year from the species data team (Ellen Lee & Elizabeth Tatham) and we’re looking forward to even more data in 2023!

Posted: December 1, 2022