About NBIS

The Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service (NBIS) is the repository for all biological records for Norfolk, both current and historic. The demand for high quality information on habitats, sites and species is strong and growing rapidly. The Service brings together the efforts of many professionals and volunteers and fulfils a key role in providing the sound evidence base needed in order to protect and enhance valuable environmental resources.  NBIS also provides information on geodiversity in Norfolk.

 Five spot Burnet moth (John Crouch)NBIS was launched January 2009 following a review of the services provided by the Norfolk Biological Records Centre (NBRC) which involved input from many partners.  It operates through a partnership of many organisations and is hosted by Norfolk County Council.   NBIS builds upon the sound records base historically provided by the NBRC, expanding and modernising the services with access to electronic mapping and a larger staff complement.

 NBIS has a crucial role to play in the development and implementation of the Norfolk Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP)– the county’s plan to maintain and enhance the biodiversity of Norfolk - delivered through the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership.  It will help local authorities and other public bodies fulfil their obligations under the NERC Act of 2006 and will strengthen the County Wildlife Sites System developed by Norfolk Wildlife Trust.  Also NBIS is supporting the development of the Norfolk Geodiversity Action Plan (GAP).

 The key focus and most essential part of data collection is the individuals who undertake the field work, mostly on a voluntary basis.  These individuals are primarily the County Recorders, a group with outstanding knowledge and identification skills. Without our various groups of recorders, there would be little data to be sent into the NBIS for planning and conservation management.
  • NBIS aspires to hold information on all County Wildlife Sites (CWS’s) and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s) for the county.
  • NBIS extracts records and prepares reports requested by environmental consultants, usually as part of the planning and development control process.
  • NBIS works closely with the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists’ Society, Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and other voluntary sector organisations.
  • NBIS liaises with the general public. It welcomes records and can help to resolve queries, by putting enquirers in touch with experts.
  • NBIS liaises with and supports the County Recorder network

NBIS works within the network of Local Record Centres operating in England, Wales and Scotland, the interests of which will be represented by the newly formed Association of Local Environmental Records Centres (ALERC).
The majority of information held is kept as species records on a computer database (using the Recorder 6 software).  In addition we hold card and paper records, of which a signicant number are historical records.  Increasingly, information is held spatially using Geographical Information System (GIS) software which permits powerful visual (mapped) representations of the data.  Currently NBIS holds nearly 2 million records on its main database – but many more are needed to plug the gaps in information that exist for some areas of the county.
NBIS is in the process of engaging with the National Biodiversity Network (NBN), with the aim of data integration.  The NBN collates species datasets from across the UK through a website called the NBN Gateway.  The Gateway 'acts as a “data warehouse” for biodiversity information, which can be quickly and easily accessed to understand the distribution of particular species in the UK.

Photo: 5 Spot burnet moth (John Crouch)