Desk Confinement and Databases. A Report from the BAP Manager


By Alex Preston, Biodiversity Action Plan Manager, Worcestershire.

One of the less fortunate aspects of my job is that it does not involve directly working in the field carrying out survey work or talking to landowners. Since my previous posts all had a strong element of fieldwork – usually in the pouring rain half-way up a hill in deepest Wales mind you – I have really missed getting out and about. A more important consequence than my quality of life is however that it is sometimes difficult to keep up to date with what is really happening on the ground.

Not suprisingly, those who do have jobs which allow them to get out and about generally prefer to spend their time doing this, rather than responding to requests for information from paper-clip pushers such as myself. (Whilst on the topic of paper clips I was horrified recently to find myself actually complaining to our admin department about the lack of paper clips in the office – I had presumably got bored with re-arranging my desk and shuffling papers.)

However, I am at the moment getting my own back and am making un-ashamed use of the fact that field-workers have being prevented from going out by the foot and mouth outbreak. I don’t want to make light of this horrendous situation - the latest issue of the biodiversity partnership newsletter talks about some of the negative impacts of this outbreak – but I have to say that two individuals at least have been kept busy compiling information relating to the Worcestershire BAP during this grim period.

This information has been in two separate but related areas habitat created or restored, and general activity relating to the various BAP habitats and species. The former, once complete, will be used to start reporting back on how we are progressing towards the numerical targets in the BAP, whilst the latter will be added to an area of the Worcestershire biodiversity website (as part of a general re-vamp) that will provide up to date information on what is going on under the BAP ‘umbrella’ in the county.

Reporting back on Biodiversity Action Plans is a tricky issue for all BAPs, both national and local. I have just spent several days trialing a new database that will track progress on BAP actions and targets – including numerical ones. The intention ultimately is that this database will be available over the internet, and local BAPs will be able to use it to track progress of their own documents. In addition national BAPs will also be plugged into the system, and connections will be made between relevant national and local objectives. For the first time the prospect of activity towards local BAPs being seamlessly tied into the national reporting picture seems possible.

So, hopefully, in the not too distant future reporting on BAP activity at both the local and national level will become much easier, and I can return to pushing paper clips around my desk, and those lucky field workers can get back to the great outdoors.

Lastly, a copy of the latest edition of the Biodiversity Partnership newsletter is enclosed with this issue of The Worcestershire Record. If you would like to be added to the mailing list for this, which is sent out quarterly, then please let me have your name and address. If you have email and would be willing to receive the newsletter via this medium then please also provide me with your email address, as I do hope to be able to do electronic mailings in the not too distant future.

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