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Biodiversity 2020 and the National Biodiversity Network at 20

Posted By Wilma Harper CEnv, 17 June 2020

Chartered Environmentalist, Wilma Harper, Talks to SocEnv 

Tell us about yourself

I’m a Chartered Forester and Chartered Environmentalist. When I retired from the Forestry Commission in 2016 I was keen to use my experience at Board level in non-executive roles in the biodiversity and forestry sectors.

I have been active in the local natural history society and had also become a director of The Wildlife Information Centre, the local biological records centre. I was thus pleased to be appointed a trustee of the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Trust.

Bioblitz at Cashel Native Forest. Wilma Harper CEnv


What is The National Biodiversity Network (NBN)?

The NBN is the UK’s largest partnership for nature, with over 200 members and more than 235 million wildlife records available through the NBN Atlas. It has been championing the sharing of biological data since 2000. 

As has been highlighted during the current Covid-19 lockdown, many people get great satisfaction from noticing the natural world around them. By recording what people see, it is possible to build up a picture of biodiversity across the country and how it changes through time. These biological records are verified by experts, curated by a wide range of organisations and then aggregated and shared regionally primarily by Local Environmental Record Centres and then nationally in the NBN Atlas.  

Much of the data comes from volunteers and citizen scientists, some of whom are considerable experts in their field.  But sharing and validating the data also requires professional environmentalists, biodiversity scientists and taxonomists whose work underpins this evidence base. Data held on the NBN Atlas is used by a variety of people and institutions from researchers in academia to the government agencies and local authorities in support of their statutory functions. How the data can be used is determined by the data owners who set the licence conditions.

Wood Mouse - Apodemus Sylvaticus. Wilma Harper CEnv


How do Chartered Environmentalists fit in?

Chartered Environmentalists come from a broad spectrum of backgrounds but all share a commitment to a code of professional standards and promoting charter level recognition of Environmentalist as a profession. In their daily work they may be carrying out or commissioning the ecological surveys which generate biodiversity data. They are often the decision makers who have to ensure that biodiversity information, including the data collated by the NBN, is part of the evidence base for major development projects.  

Evidence of Beavers - Aberfeldy. Wilma Harper CEnv


What would be your biodiversity message for SocEnv registrants?

I’d like to see more Chartered Environmentalists in the biodiversity sector to give greater recognition of their professional status.

Plus, from my NBN Trust Trustee role, I would encourage Chartered Environmentalists to share the biodiversity data they gather and make full use of the evidence base available - the data curated by the NBN over the last 20 years.

To find out more and help to support the work of the National Biodiversity Network, visit

Porcelain Fungus Oudemansiella Mucida on Beech Tree - Morton Lochs. Wilma Harper CEnv



For more biodiversity case studies, activities and materials, visit

Tags:  Biodiversity  CEnv  Chartered  For Nature  National Biodiversity Network  NBN  Wilma Harper  World Environment Day  World Environment Day 2020 

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