Lancashire Amphibian and reptile
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Covering the vice counties of South and West Lancashire

an area now encompassing
Lancashire,
Greater Manchester
and Merseyside

map

Sharing of professional survey data

LARA is keen to receive as much of the data collected by professional ecologists as possible and we are able to receive these records in any format, for example as an Excel spreadsheet or as part of a report (either PDF or paper copies).

LARA is interested in all amphibian and reptile data, not just that relating to protected species.

The atlas project does not aim to replace local record centres, so consultants may wish to send data to the relevant record centre and copy it to the atlas project at:

atlasrecorder@lara-project.org.

Why send data to LARA as well as a local record centre?

LARA’s database has been designed to capture metadata which makes it easy to analyse for research and conservation purposes. In contrast, this metadata is difficult to store in RECORDER or MAPMATE databases meaning that for research purposes it is effectively lost.

LARA is as interested in the widespread species data as the protected species data. (Due to pressure on resources, local record centres do not always make use of widespread species data.)

A vast amount of survey data is collected by professional ecologists working on development-related projects. This data becomes freely available to the public when projects become the subject of planning applications, but record centres do not automatically receive copies of these records.

Given the shortage of accurate amphibian and reptile data, (not to mention the vast cost of its collection) it is important that the information which is collected is fully utilised. The importance of this is recognised in the IEEM Code of Professional Conduct, clause 5.7 of which states that members shall “Wherever possible, make scientific data collected during the course of their professional duties available to others such as records centres”.

"By passing on their records, consultant ecologists could make a far bigger contribution to our understanding of the distribution of species in the UK"

Andy Tasker
2007-08 president of the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management

Despite this, some consultants are reluctant to pass on their survey data, citing “client confidentiality” as the reason for this. Consequently a vast amount of valuable and irreplaceable data is effectively lost forever.

There is often no good reason why survey data cannot be shared with records centres and any concerns over client confidentiality can be overcome by consultants including the following clauses in their contracts:

(1) ……………….. Ecological Services grants the client unrestricted licence to use survey data for activities associated with the specified project. Copyright of all information generated by ………. Ecological Services remains with ……………….. Ecological Services.

(2) Observations of living organisms made by personnel working on behalf of ……………….. Ecological Services will be submitted as records to the county records centre (or other nominated individual/oganization) no earlier than one year after such information is supplied to the client. Observations that the client considers to be sensitive must be identified by the client and reported to ……………….. Ecological Services in writing.

The first condition effectively gives the right to implement the second.