It is perhaps best to get the bad news out of the way first. We have now received notification that our bid for first tranche funding from the National Biodiversity Network has been unsuccessful. However, the bid was very seriously considered by the adjudication panel who commented on the strength of our case. The successful bid came from Cheshire who were awarded the project mainly on the grounds of their greater size and the fact that they have some coastline which brings in marine as well as terrestrial records. We must now work hard to keep our records centre project moving and look forward to the very real possibility that we will get funding in the second tranche. We will also be able to draw on the expertise, and to some extent time, of the national BRC project officer for advice.
The difficulties surrounding the creation of the records data base have now been largely overcome, due in no small measure to stirring work by Martin Hodgson, and by the time you read this, work on entering data should have started. Mr. Richard Nicol has volunteered to undertake training on the Recorder software and then to help with training other volunteers. I hope to see a small team drawn together who will start work on existing BRC records and then progress to computerising new records as they come in.
The centre needs to be seen to be run on professional, scientific lines which will be acceptable to people submitting records and to those using its services. This will be achieved by an advisory group composed of representatives from both of these groups, chaired by myself, whose function will be to draw up operating procedures and monitor their implementation. A first meeting was held at Lower Smite Farm with a range of representatives to start the ball rolling. However, it was felt that little could be achieved until the outcome of the NBN bid was known. Now that this information is to hand a second meeting will be held to form the working Advisory Group and begin the task of agreeing the procedures.
The careful preparatory work is an essential foundation for a successful BRC but equally important is the collection of reliable records. As you will know the Trusts' Biological Recording Working Party has been involved in encouraging renewed recording activity and, with the help of the Education Department, in providing training for people who wish to improve their identification skills. The programme of courses for the coming year has now been published so please sign up. A few places are still available! Further initiatives are in the pipeline and will be published later in the year. For those who returned questionnaires expressing interest in recording - I have not forgotten you - and to anyone who is involved in recording but perhaps feels the Trust has not given you the support you would like, please do not hesitate to contact me. Recording is the life blood of conservation, providing the essential basic information for planning our strategies and setting priorities. I cannot stress too highly the value which we place on all records and the people who supply them and I would be glad to hear from anyone with ideas about how we might improve the co-ordination of recording activity and, above all, to establish links between recorders so that we can provide mutual help and support. The next couple of months will be spent planning the work for 1998 so now is the time to put your ideas forward.
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