Nature Counts - Help Pages

Welcome to the Nature Counts help pages!

The guide is separated into sections based on the different aspects of Nature Counts and the different people who are using is: general recorders, staff doing surveys staff exploring the data and staff administrating the Nature Counts page. There are videos outlining different pieces of information within each page.

If you think there is some pieces of information that are lacking, or have any general feedback, then please email the team at data4nature@wildsheffield.com

Happy recording!

New to Nature Counts?

Start here: Getting started

Quick links

Use the search function in the top right of every page on the help site or here if you can't find what you're looking for.

Submitting records

How to make an account on Nature Counts, submit a single record and list of records at a single place.

Exploring data

This section covers how to explore your records, query the database, produce species list and download data.

Activities

How to use activities for local recording groups and bioblitzes!

Survey builder

This section covers to use Nature Counts for ecological monitoring

General information about Nature Counts

Nature Counts is a part of the More Data for Nature project and a collaboration with the following Wildlife Trusts:

More Data for Nature is supported by the Heritage Fund. Nature Counts is supported by the Wildlife Trusts Strategic Development Fund.

Supported by:

Lottery Heritage Fund


Strategic Development Fund

Background

A previous Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) supported the ‘Nature Counts’ project which identified the lack of comprehensive species data as a barrier to understanding the state of nature in the Sheffield and Rotherham area. This highlighted the need for SRWT to improve our internal systems whilst encouraging public recording and led to the Data for Nature project.

After the various options for storing environmental data were reviewed, the Data for Nature project identified the Indicia/iRecord system the best fit for SRWT’s needs. The Data for Nature project established space in the Biological Records Centre’s (BRC) warehouse for storing biological records. HLF funding enabled the Trust to become members of the National Biodiversity Network (NBN).

SRWT completed a project last year called Data for Nature, part of which involved a group of volunteers sorting & compiling a large amount of historical data from paper and electronic files. This data was input into SRWT’s new Nature Counts system, alongside new data collected through Data for Nature ecological monitoring, and from public sightings.

The Nature Counts recording system is based on the Indicia open source biological system and was developed and deployed by developer John van Breda. It has SRWT reserves pre-loaded and functionality for ‘blurring’ records associated. Records have successfully been uploaded to the NBN Atlas and currently hosts 29,802 of our records (https://registry.nbnatlas.org/public/show/dp239).

As part of the Data for Nature, systematic surveys were carried out across SRWT nature reserves targeting a variety of taxonomic groups and employed a verity of survey methods (eg. transects, pointcounts, grid based surveying). These surveys and sites were chosen through a selection process. However, the data, protocol and analyses are currently stored locally on the SRWT filesystem in excel spreadsheets. Where possible, casual biological records were extracted from survey data and uploaded to Nature Counts.


More Data for Nature

The More Data for Nature project is working to develop a common method of data capture and storage among several Wildlife Trusts. This work builds on the previous work under Data for Nature, to build an online recording form (called Nature Counts) for Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust. A key component of the new development of the Nature Counts database is the ability to create surveys and collect data beyond that of simple biological records. Key aims of this project are:

  • Development of a survey module or wizard, to enable WT staff to design monitoring protocols and capture all relevant data for these. Installation of this module into SRWT’s existing Nature Counts page.

  • Clone of the improved Nature Counts page and installation of page for each partner Wildlife Trust (including update of relevant nature reserve boundaries, branding/logos, dataflow to BRC & NBN Atlas, marketing options and terms and conditions).

  • Establish this system as a proof of concept for future roll-out to other WTs. WTs, as independent charities, have different relationships with their local recording scene.

  • Fast deployment, set-up and training (with aid of an external developer)

  • User friendly to ensure that users engage with it and therefore sustains its usage, growth and development.

  • Future-proof and sustainable by ensuring that sufficient time is allocated to training users. The indicia system and hosting data in the BRC were chosen because to ensure longevity. Centralised development of the recording toolkit so that any updates or improvements are rolled-out to all partner trusts.


Project Leads

Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust

Simon Rolph (s.rolph@wildsheffield.com) - Senior Project Officer and Database Development Officer

Pete Tomlin (p.tomlin@wildsheffield.com) - Previously: Senior Project Officer


An introduction to Indicia

We have chosen Indicia as the basis to build our biological recording systems.

From the Indicia website:

“Indicia provides a solution for developing online biological recording. A toolkit that simplifies the construction of websites, Indicia supports wildlife observation recording forms that are as simple or advanced as you need, allow photo upload, reporting, mapping and verification of the records. By providing these facilities via a comprehensive set of highly configurable components, Indicia can be used to build diverse and unique recording solutions, which avoid reinventing the wheel and minimise the cost of development.

Indicia is not an off the shelf solution for online recording. Rather, it is a toolkit that simplifies the development by providing ready-made components required to build online recording websites. Indicia provides a set of services, tools and examples that can be added to almost any website to provide rich online recording functionality.”

Indicia is used by a range of organisations to provide the technical backbone to support biological recording. The highest profile recording scheme built from Indicia is iRecord, run by the Biological Records Centre (BRC).

In summary: there are two key components:

Indicia Warehouse: this is the software that manages the database. Because we are using the BRC warehouse (see Dataflow and licensing for more information) we will not have much technical interaction with the warehouse. The documentation is available here: https://indicia-docs.readthedocs.io/en/latest/index.html.

Indicia Forms Module: This is a module for the content management system (CMS) called Drupal and provides the forms for inputting, managing and exporting biological data. The form modules are used in combination with Drupal to create a website.

The Indicia logo

The iRecord logo - notice the connection to Indicia with the same colour scheme

The Drupal 8 logo

External links and resources relating to Indicia and iRecord


Our developer

The developer we chose to use for Nature Counts Phase 1 (set up of SRWT’s Nature Counts recording page) and Phase 2 (further development and setting up recording pages for partner Trusts) was John van Breda can be contacted via john.vanbreda@biodiverseit.co.uk.

Key contacts at each partner Wildlife Trust:

Sheffield and Rotherham WT - wildsheffield.com - record.wildsheffield.com

General enquiries: data4nature@wildsheffield.com

Simon Rolph (s.rolph@wildsheffield.com) - Senior Project Officer and Database Development Officer

Pete Tomlin (p.tomlin@wildsheffield.com) - Previously: Senior Project Officer


Manx WT - mwt.im - record.mwt.im

Graham Makepeace-Warne

Philippa Tomlinson


Yorkshire WT - ywt.org.uk - record.ywt.org.uk

Phillip Whelpdale


Northumberland WT - nwt.org.uk - record.nwt.org.uk

Duncan Hutt

Alice McCourt


Andrew Nixon


Michael Walker