Wildlife Counts Final Report (3MB)
Report on first year of the project.
The main objectives of the Wildlife Counts Project
The Wildlife Counts Project is designed to address one of the key objectives of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy.
Increase awareness, understanding and enjoyment of biodiversity, and engage many more people in conservation and enhancement
The Project aims to do this through increasing people's understanding of local wildlife, specifically through engaging them in identifying various plants and animals and thereby building an understanding of the diversity of living things found around where they live. The target audience is beginners and non-naturalists with an interest in wildlife but without, or with only limited, recording experience.
Knowing which species and habitats occur locally, and how to identify them, is the foundation upon which a deeper knowledge of biodiversity can be built. The Wildlife Counts Project aims to introduce people to observing and studying wildlife with the aspiration that for some participants this introduction will develop into a lifelong interest.
How the Project activities will be delivered
The Project will engage with people through offering hands-on experience in observing birds, collecting and identifying terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates, identifying flowering and lower plants, learning about and looking at tracks, trails and signs of mammals, amphibians and reptiles, and generally accessing and channelling others' skills and knowledge in wildlife identification.
As no single individual can possess the broad range of skills needed to provide a balanced introduction to biological recording, the Project will enter into contracts and agreements with specialists who can deliver specific parts of the programme. However the groups of species covered by the Project will be determined by the availability of available skills and the specific demands for information.
The role of the Project will be to co-ordinate the specialist inputs, manage the programme of activities and check that they adhere to high and consistent standards. The Project will also ensure that the principles of biological recording are adequately conveyed to participants and that suitable supporting materials and equipment are prepared and made available. The Project will also provide ongoing support and advice to participants and the wider community.
Where the Project will take place
The Project will be delivered in the three adjacent local authority areas of Stirling, North Lanarkshire and Falkirk where active support has been received. In each case the Local Biodiversity Action Plan partnership, through the LBAP officers have been
the key contacts and supporting bodies. Organisations in each of the three areas have contributed funds, and the Project may develop slightly different ways of working in each area as it responds to input from local partners. However the concept, aims and proposed activities are the same for each area and the Project is designed so that it could be delivered in any area of Scotland.
A small Management Team comprising representatives from BRISC, BTCV Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage will oversee the project. There are no separate formal partnerships governing the Project in the three council areas although it will work closely alongside the LBAP officers and engage with others who are working locally, such as Countryside Rangers and SNH staff. This will ensure that existing community contacts and knowledge are used to best effect, that the profile of the Project is maximised, and that its outcomes in terms of community engagement and data are widely understood and supported by local stakeholders.
The demand for biological records
Learning about wildlife identification contributes to people's knowledge, understanding, skills and commitment to the natural heritage: it also generates information on species in the form of biological records. The Project will seek to address real requirements for these data and will promote biological recording and the use of biological records as a useful and relevant activity, as well as an enjoyable one!
The sharing of data, including information on what has been identified, where, when, and by whom, is an important part of the Wildlife Counts Project. In each of the council areas there is an identified need for more information on local biodiversity, although the exact requirements vary according to local circumstances. The Project will ensure that the data collected are widely disseminated, particularly within the local communities. However, in many cases the records collected will not necessarily meet the immediate requirements as identified by the LBAPs and others: the Project is not intended to act as a substitute for professional surveys.
Outline of the activity programme
The Project will deliver an integrated programme of events including outdoor learning in the summer and indoor study sessions and meetings in the winter, with participants encouraged to attend the full programme of events.
Outdoor events will include introductory 'taster' sessions aimed at a wide audience - these will be held on local sites including urban parks and greenspaces, such as Country Parks. Further outdoor sessions will provide a more focused approach and will look in detail at particular groups of species, such as woodland indicator plants, amphibians, aquatic invertebrates, bumblebees, non-native invasive species, and trees and shrubs.
The evening meetings will cover additional aspects of biological recording and the Project will help to establish three self-sustaining Local Wildlife Recording Forums as a means to continue to support biological recording and promote the sharing of skills and knowledge.