The NBN South West Pilot Project

South West Pilot Project

NBN Grassland Inventories for Dorset

NBN Grassland Inventories for Dorset

(Click on the map for a larger picture)

The National Biodiversity Network (NBN) is a national project that aims to promote the sharing of wildlife information in the UK. One of the main products of the NBN is the NBN Gateway, a web site that shows how multiple sources of biodiversity information can be accessed and used over the Internet. Data is provided by partners such as DERC to the Gateway, and can then be viewed and downloaded by other organisations. Access to some data on the Gateway is password-protected to protect sensitive data.

Acknowledging that it will take some time to develop a fully functioning National Biodiversity Network (NBN) with national coverage, Natural England (NE) funded the NBN South West Pilot Project. The project ran from 2001 until 2004 and included all seven South West Local Records Centres. The aims of this project were to demonstrate the benefits of a fully functioning NBN at the regional scale, and to develop policies and mechanisms to build the network nationally. More specifically, its targets were to:

  • Promote and support data collection and sharing;
  • Develop data access and accreditation policies and standards;
  • Increase the quantity and value of wildlife data accessible via the NBN Gateway Internet facility, and specifically GIS-based inventories of UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) habitats and a selection of protected species in the region. These datasets will become prototypes for development of national-scale datasets in the future;
  • Trial and develop the NBN Internet Gateway as a means of delivering information to a wide range of users;
  • Demonstrate the benefits of the NBN Network by providing data on wildlife to decision-makers in government and elsewhere.

Local Record Centres were an integral part of the NBN SW Pilot Project, being viewed as a key mechanism by which the general public, voluntary groups, public bodies and larger organisations could contribute, manage and access the wildlife information for their local area.

As part of this project DERC has done a large amount of work on developing BAP Priority Habitat inventories, to be made available on the NBN Gateway. First versions of inventories have been completed for some habitats including: lowland mixed deciduous woodland, lowland beech and yew woodland, wet woodland, lowland wood pasture and parkland, lowland dry acid grassland, lowland calcareous grassland, purple moor grass and rush pasture, lowland meadows, lowland heathland, coastal saltmarsh, coastal vegetated shingle, Sabellaria spinulosa reefs, and Sabellaria alveolata reefs.

There is still considerable work and refinement needed on most of these inventories. They also need to be updated as new information becomes available. The South West Pilot Project has shown what could be done with sufficient funding. The habitat inventories and the associated metadata can be viewed on Nature on the map on the English Nature website.

As part of the South West Pilot we have also provided species datasets to the Gateway for a range of species targeted by the project. Finally, we have been working on specific case studies and projects, for example working to build stronger relationships with recording groups, and reviewing our policies towards data access.

Who to contact

For further information on DERCs involvement in the project please contact:


Bryan Edwards



01305 228520