bioblitz guide

Transcript

1 Guide to Running a BioBlitz 2.0 Guide to Running a BioBlitz 2.0

2 What is a BioBlitz? Page 1 1 2 Getting started Page 3 Contents 3 Planning checklist Page 5 4 Choosing a site, date and duration Page 7 5 Recruiting volunteers and specialists Page 8 6 Basecamp – the focus for activities Page 9 Evaluation 7 Page 11 Page 13 Recording your survey results 8 9 Health, safety and related documents Page 15 Page 16 10 Publicity 11 Ideas for activities Page 17 12 Involving schools Page 21 13 After the event Page 23 Page 24 14 Resources and links Contents

3 About this guide This guide has been designed to support the running of BioBlitzes and similar wildlife events in the UK. It is aimed at those running a large-scale event but a BioBlitz doesn’t have to be big to be successful. If you would like to hold a smaller event, just select the ideas that are relevant to you. This guide has been written by a partnership of organisations that have led the BioBlitz concept About this booklet in the UK, with contributions from BioBlitz organisers from across the country. It was originally www.opalexplorenature.org , written in 2010 as part of the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) project supported by the Big Lottery Fund, but has since been significantly updated and supplemented with case studies and examples to bring our suggestions to life. Guide to Running a BioBlitz 2.0 Use of this guide Bristol Natural History Consortium This guide can be freely distributed in its original form Matt Postles works at Bristol Natural History for non-commercial purposes. All content is copyright Consortium (BNHC), a Bristol-based but nationally active charity that engages people with the natural world the Natural History Museum, Bristol Natural History through collaborative action. BNHC ran its first BioBlitz Consortium, Stockholm Environment Insitute York and in 2009 at Ashton Court in Bristol and have since been the Marine Biological Association. No images or sections of text can be extracted and used elsewhere without first working with partners across the UK to promote and obtaining permission. develop the concept, coordinating the National BioBlitz Network. Matt took over the lead of the BioBlitz strand Robinson, L.D., Tweddle, J.C., Postles, M.C., Citation: at BNHC in 2011 and has been involved in running and West, S.E., & Sewell, J. (2013) Guide to running a BioBlitz. supporting several events as well as raising the public Natural History Museum, Bristol Natural History profile of BioBlitz nationally. Consortium, Stockholm Environment Insitute York and Marine Biological Association. Stockholm Environment Institute (York) Sarah West is a researcher at the Stockholm About the authors Environment Institute (York), an international research Natural History Museum organisation focusing on environmental and development Lucy Robinson John Tweddle and authored the issues. Sarah organised several BioBlitzes and attended first version of the BioBlitz guide in 2010 during their many more whilst working on the OPAL project, and time working on the OPAL project. Together they have drew together a number of lessons learned from her organised a number of BioBlitzes and have attended experiences which are featured in this guide. Sarah is an many others. Their first BioBlitz was the Wembury active member of the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union. BioBlitz on the Devon coast in 2009, which was filmed for the BBC documentary Museum of Life. This rural event Marine Biological Association of contrasted markedly with the Alexandra Palace Park the United Kingdom BioBlitz they organised in central London in 2010 which works at the Marine Biological Association Jack Sewell catered for over 8000 participants. Lucy and John both of the United Kingdom (MBA). He has been involved in work in the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity education and outreach including running citizen science at the Natural History Museum London. and marine life recording projects for almost 10 years. He co-led the first public, marine-based BioBlitz at Wembury in 2009 alongside the Natural History Museum and has led an annual Southwest BioBlitz since then with a range of partners. He has provided advice and guidance to support BioBlitz events nationally and internationally. JACK SEWELL JOHN TWEDDLE LUCY ROBINSON MATT POSTLES SARAH WEST [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected]

4 ‘Bio’ means ‘life’ and ‘Blitz’ means ‘to do something quickly and intensively’. Together they make ‘BioBlitz’, a collaborative race against the clock to discover as many species of plants, animals and fungi as possible, within a set location, over a defined time period (usually 24 hours). A BioBlitz usually comprises a group of scientists, A BioBlitz can be carried out anywhere there is wildlife, students, naturalists and other members of the public including urban and rural areas, inland or coastal What is BioBlitz ? working together - this mixture of wildlife experts and the locations, and upland and lowland settings. It is a very 1 wider public is key to the BioBlitz concept. flexible concept: it’s up to you how many people to invite, how big an area to explore and what activities to include. It is an informal and fun way to create a snapshot of the variety of life that can be found in an area. It provides First developed by Sam Droege in the USA in 1996, an opportunity for participants to learn together and BioBlitzes are now held regularly in many countries and share their expertise and enthusiasm for nature. This is a have been taking place in the UK since 2006. BNHC great way of breaking down barriers to engagement with co-ordinate the National BioBlitz Network in the UK. science and raising awareness of the role of biological The name ‘BioBlitz’ has developed international recording. It also gives the public an opportunity to recognition in the media as an exciting and fun way to get contribute to a genuine scientific survey. people exploring natural spaces and discovering wildlife. You don’t need to use it if you don’t like it, but you may gain extra media coverage if you do. What is a BioBlitz? 1

5 Sweeping for invertebrates at Bristol BioBlitz What is BioBlitz ? 1 2

6 Getting Started Getting Started Will a BioBlitz meet your goals? 2 This is the first question that should be asked. From an organiser’s perspective, the BioBlitz concept is very flexible and can be designed to fit your budget, aims and interests. If planned carefully, it can be an effective way to spread If your aim is to compile a full site inventory, then a your message to a wide audience, launch a product or BioBlitz probably won’t be the most efficient way to do this, but it could kick-start the process and attract partnership, recruit new members or simply showcase, expertise. explore and raise awareness of the diversity of life in a particular area. BioBlitz events are also a lot of fun. They work best if they have a defined, active outcome such as a particular target species or a ‘grand total’ to aim for, giving people a positive reason to get involved. Surveying beetles at the Mothecombe BioBlitz in Devon. 3

7 Identify your desired outcomes Business/economic outcomes BioBlitzes are often used to raise the profile of At the outset, consider what outcomes you and any participating organisations. They can help groups to partner organisations are hoping for and design the meet their charitable aims, and may generate financial event accordingly. It is important to evaluate the event support either directly through charity membership to measure the extent to which your outcomes were recruitment, donations and visitor spending, or indirectly achieved (see section 7: Evaluation). through leveraging future public and corporate funding. Desired outcomes may include: Getting Started By working as part of a consortium, smaller organisations 2 can work with far larger numbers of people than their budgets would normally allow. Individual outcomes Often, a primary aim of a BioBlitz is to engage with individuals and influence their interaction with the natural What resources do you have? world. Outcomes may include: Whatever the scale, a BioBlitz will require resourcing. • Enjoyment, inspiration and creativity - participants have Staff and volunteers will be needed to plan, publicise fun and are inspired to enjoy the natural world and and run the event, and you will require funding to cover contribute to its conservation running costs. How much of each is needed will depend on the scale of event you are aiming for and the materials • Knowledge and understanding - participants develop you already have. Most existing wildlife-related outreach an understanding of local wildlife and habitats and gain materials can be fitted into a BioBlitz. You may want to first-hand experience of how biological recording works consider seeking sponsorship. • Skills development - participants develop wildlife identification and biological recording skills alongside communication and teaching skills Investigate a partnership approach • Attitudes and values - participants are more aware of A partnership approach is highly recommended when wildlife and conservation in their local community planning a BioBlitz. Teaming up with other organisations • Behaviour and progression - participants are is an excellent way to share ideas and expertise, spread encouraged to continue to record their wildlife sightings the workload and maximise publicity. An effective after the event BioBlitz partnership will ideally include partners with local knowledge, species expertise and the ability to handle the species records collected. Local Records Centres, Wildlife Trusts, natural history societies, community groups, Environmental outcomes councils, laboratories, field centres and universities are Through recording the names and locations of species, all good starting points and it is vital to engage with local BioBlitzes can generate biological records which can be groups as early in the planning process as possible. Their passed on to Local Records Centres, national recording environmental expertise will be necessary for a successful schemes and the National Biodiversity Network Gateway. event not only on the day but also in selecting the most The records can be used to help scientific research and appropriate site, time of year and activities. government policy, as well as informing conservation practice, local planning and land management at a variety of scales. Community outcomes By engaging with local communities on their own ‘patch’, BioBlitz events can lower barriers to engagement with nature, particularly for ‘hard to reach groups’ such as young people, the elderly, disability groups, Black and Minority Ethnic groups and those living in areas of high deprivation. If targeted well, BioBlitzes can bring together diverse groups of people from a community, which could contribute to improved community cohesion in the longer term. They can also help to give people a sense of belonging by encouraging people to participate in wildlife activities in their local area. They can help to build support for local conservation areas and may encourage the behaviour changes required for their effective protection. 4

8 Planning checklist 3 Planning checklist Once you’ve decided a BioBlitz is for you, plan as far in advance as possible. The main tasks are listed below, with more detailed hints and tips for selected topics on the following pages. • arrange first aid cover Things to do as soon as possible: • arrange on-site security and marshalling (if required) • meet with groups and organisations who may be interested in contributing (including local naturalists), • write risk assessments and other policy documents to scope ideas, support and requirements (see section 9) • confirm your budget and seek any additional funding or sponsorship INVITATIONS AND ACTIVITIES • choose a site and secure permissions to access and • invite naturalists and volunteers survey • plan and develop all component BioBlitz activities • check any conservation designations (for example SSSI) (see section 11) in the survey area that may limit the activities which can • prepare recording sheets and a records database be undertaken • plan timetabled activities • set the date and duration • prepare and circulate an information pack for staff and • start to plan the event structure and content volunteers, including a copy of the recording form • check the National BioBlitz Network website for useful • plan how you will evaluate the success of the event downloadable resources PUBLICITY In the six months leading up to the event: • register your event with the National BioBlitz Network LOGISTICS to get listed in the BioBlitz directory • decide on the layout of the venue, including the design • design and order any signs and banners of Basecamp (see section 6) • design and print programmes for public attendees • book any equipment you need to hire - marquee, (if required) generator, tables and chairs, tea urn etc. • circulate publicity material and press release, and • arrange any necessary licences (e.g. for vending, or contact local community groups and tourist offices surveying sensitive species and habitats) • write web pages and set up blogs and other online • arrange site facilities – parking, catering, toilets media such as Facebook and Twitter • obtain collecting permission from the landowner, and for protected sites contact the relevant statutory body 5

9 Speckled Wood, Pararge aegeria 3 Planning checklist The weeks before: After the event: • clean up the site before leaving • inform the local police and/or coastguard about your event • thank the landowner and everyone who helped • re-confirm bookings for anything you are hiring • collate the findings (including reminding participants to • check everything you need is prepared send records and photos after the event) and write an event report • update staff and volunteers on their roles at the event (print a rota showing who is doing what and when), • de-brief participants with species totals and other achievements with information about key locations, event context and what to do in an emergency • write up your evaluation of the day and consider any • run a training or briefing session for key staff and lessons learned volunteers • carry out any other follow-up activities • carry out a final publicity push, which could include National • share any reports or feedback with the using social media, putting up posters in the local area BioBlitz Network and contacting local radio and television stations • relax and recover! During the event (and set up): • co-ordinate delivery and set up of any hired equipment • set up your site, including Basecamp and activities • walk around the venue to check for any new risks (or exciting wildlife!) • brief staff and volunteers and inspire enthusiasm in your team • talk to the media and update websites and social media • be active and dynamic, if something isn’t working then change it • evaluate the success of the day 6

10 The site will influence the overall feel of the event along with what is found, so choose carefully. Public parks, local nature reserves and privately owned Date, duration and timing: estates that are publicly accessible are all popular locations. • are there constraints on when your BioBlitz can be Remember you will need to gain access permission for your scheduled? Avoid clashing with other local or similar chosen venue and, if you are planning a 24-hour event, will national events probably be on site overnight. In this case, you may need • you can find wildlife at all times of year, but late spring local overnight accommodation or camping facilities. Talk and early summer are good for spotting a wide range to your Local Records Centre or natural history societies of species, with day length and temperatures more before choosing a site. They may be able to suggest sites favourable for outdoor activities. You are unlikely to find that are under-recorded or have interesting wildlife, which as many species if you hold your BioBlitz ‘off season’ may be a strong incentive for naturalists to attend. • if you are hoping to invite school groups, they may need The site should: the event to include a weekday during term time and • be safe, particularly after dark during school hours • be easily accessible to your chosen audience, with good • many events run Friday to Saturday, with a focus on public transport links and ample parking schools on Friday and a broader family audience on 4 Choosing a site, date and duration Saturday • be able to cope with your expected audience size without any negative impact on biodiversity • BioBlitzes traditionally run for 24 hours but you don’t need to stick to this if another time period is more appropriate • contain the desired habitats and species groups • similarly, there is no fixed rule for the start time. For a • contain appropriate facilities, including toilets and catering public launch, start late morning to give people time to (an added cost if you need to arrange these separately) arrive • contain somewhere to site your Basecamp (Section 6) • for coastal events, try to coincide with a particularly low • have a phone line or good mobile signal in case of tide and schedule activities to fit in with tide times emergency Choosing a site, date and duration 7

11 Recruiting volunteers and specialists Recruiting the right mix of wildlife specialists, staff and volunteers to co-ordinate public activities is vital. There are no set rules on how many scientists and naturalists should take part; the more the merrier. Try to recruit a diverse breadth of expertise as this will give you a wider range of potential activities and boost your final species count. Many naturalists will be happy to bring their own equipment, just remember to ask them. Engaged early, volunteers can also help with promotion and obtaining funding and resources for the event. Find out in advance which roles volunteers and specialists are most comfortable with. 5 Recruiting volunteers and specialists Some will just want to get on with recording, others will also be happy to run a public- facing activity. • provide free food and drink throughout the event Where to recruit scientific experts and • incorporate a social activity, such as a barbeque or trip volunteers to the pub following the event Spread the word through your contact network. Local • give free access to all non-sensitive wildlife records biodiversity-related websites and email newsgroups can be particularly effective in reaching naturalists. Here are • produce a public facing report that shows what has some more ideas of organisations to contact: been achieved and lets volunteers know that their efforts have been appreciated and made a difference • Wildlife Trusts and Local Records Centres • natural history societies and recording schemes Information pack for staff, experts and (see www.nhm.ac.uk/naturegroups) volunteers • local community/friends of groups with an interest in In the run up to the event, send out an information pack the site to everyone who has signed up to help. It should include: • town councils • background to the event, what you hope to achieve and • local museums what they can expect to get involved in • universities and other academic institutions (contact the • details of the event - where, when, parking, student union or careers department about volunteers) accommodation, facilities • Volunteering England (for advice on recruiting and • details of safety procedures managing volunteers) • survey information - map, collecting policy, information about ‘protected zones’, recording form Ideas for rewarding naturalists and • timetable volunteers • claim form for travel expenses If your event sounds fun and produces useful data, most naturalists will take part for free. It helps if elements of • your contact details for any questions your event contribute to their wider goals (for example, by • acknowledgement of funders and supporting promoting their interest or organisation). organisations In return for their input, you could: You may also want to provide a training workshop for • offer to cover the costs of travel, subsistence and your volunteers in the weeks leading up to the event. consumables Event organisers have found that this not only makes the event run more smoothly on the day but also greatly • allow volunteers to promote membership of their group enhances volunteers’ experience and enjoyment. at the event - add their logos to publicity material and invite them to run a stall or activity • provide an event t-shirt - this helps to distinguish volunteers and staff from the public, and promotes the event 8

12 Basecamp: the focus for activities Key to a successful BioBlitz is a busy, well organised and accessible Basecamp that can serve as the focus for the event. Think about what you need to provide power for e.g. This is somewhere for naturalists to congregate and lighting, microscopes, heating, kettles and laptops. report their results, and for participants to find out how to take part and see what has been found so far. It can also provide a useful starting point for activities. For activity Your Basecamp needs to be: ideas, see section 11. safe, secure and easy to navigate around • Basecamp - the focus for activities Check whether there are any existing buildings on site you 6 can use, ideally with electricity, water, heating and lighting. • centrally located within your activity area, if possible A phone line or mobile phone signal is vital in case of easy to find and accessible to the public • emergencies and internet access is extremely useful for • close to parking and/or public transport links online species identification and maintaining a live social • close to catering and toilets (accessible 24 hours if your media status during the event. If a suitable building is not event is running overnight) available, then work out how big you need your Basecamp to be: do you need to hire a marquee or will a few gazebos or tents suffice? Make sure you plan for bad weather! Basecamp at Mothecombe BioBlitz in Devon 9

13 Your Basecamp should contain: CASE STUDY - Identification Triaging at York BioBlitz INFORMATION POINT A stand or table where the public will find out what a “A great way of managing an identification zone is to BioBlitz is and how they can take part. At this point they have a “triage” system in place. can collect recording forms, safety information, rules, 1. A member of the public bringing an organism to the activity sheets and maps of the survey area, borrow identification zone first goes to an area where they are equipment, and sign up for guided activities. helped to discover roughly what it is e.g. “It’s a spider, Make sure you clearly explain what a BioBlitz is and what you can tell that because it’s got 8 legs and two body the event is trying to achieve. You may want to include a parts”. The people helping in this area do not need registration process to keep track of participant numbers to be ‘expert’ in any particular field, just enthusiastic and contact details. generalists. IDENTIFICATION ZONE 2. If it is a ver y common spider, then it may be possible to identify it to species then and there using BioBlitzes are all about identifying the organisms that are books and other resources, and add it onto the BioBlitz found, so you will need an area for naturalists to confirm species recording form. their identifications and help members of the public identify anything they have found. If it’s a bit harder to identify, the person and their spider 3. Basecamp - the focus for activities would be passed on to the more advanced identification 6 You will need experts, field guides, microscopes, a camera, area, where there might be more detailed identification a laptop and internet access. Have a range of different guides, microscopes and a spider ‘expert’. It may be that identification resources, from entry level Field Studies it can’t be identified in the field, so it would have to be Council laminated guides up to advanced identification taken away for later identification. books. Be aware that field guides don’t always show every species in a group, especially with invertebrates, so This system works well because it means that ‘experts’ confirm your IDs with a naturalist or a detailed key - don’t don’t get swamped with common species and instead can just go with the picture that looks closest! focus on the tricky ones. The first stage of the triage needs lots of enthusiastic volunteers to make it work. We’ve Try to get as close to species or family level identification found that advertising to university students is a good as possible. Vague records such as ‘spider’ or ‘bumblebee’ way of recruiting volunteers - tr y the careers service or are of limited value to the end users of the data as they volunteering unit.” could potentially refer to a huge number of different species. - Species Tally at Alexandra CASE STUDY iSpot is an online platform that allows you to upload Palace Park and Wembury BioBlitzes photos of species to be identified by an online community of naturalists. You can set your event up with its own iSpot “There are lots of ways you could let people know how tag and there is also a mobile app version that can be used many species have been identified. We’ve tried ever ything in the field. www.ispot.org.uk from low-technology blackboards to higher technology flat You can never have too many plastic pots and trays for screen TVs. We’ve found that the low-tech option is often specimens! Once a specimen has been identified, it is the best as it allows for easy and regular updates. a good idea to stick a label on the pot identifying it e.g. A swingometer is a fun way of showing progress towards woodlouse - Androniscus dentiger . That way people can a target.” look at the specimen alongside the guides. REST AND REFRESHMENT AREA Some organisms will need to be dissected to be identified. Staff and volunteers will need somewhere to sit and renew Think about whether you want this to happen during or energy between surveys, particularly if they are working after the event, but don’t shy away from explaining the overnight. Fold-up chairs and trestle tables are always need for it, or for collecting voucher specimens. useful. Provide a kettle, tea, coffee and snacks. RESULTS AREA SECURE AREA The results area is a central point to collate your species records and display the results. Include tables and laptops Somewhere for staff and volunteers to leave personal for data entry and a flat screen TV or display board to possessions and store field equipment when it’s not in use. publicise the latest results. Try to show examples of recent OTHER USEFUL CONTENT finds. If you want to update blogs and websites you will It is important for your Basecamp to be buzzing with need to organise internet access. Bring a small scanner activity. It is your base of operations and you may want to and memory card reader to digitise notebooks and collate include: specimen photos (or scans for seaweeds and plants) as evidence to support records. Ensure that photo providers • first aid, lost child and fire extinguisher points sign a sheet giving permission for you to use their images. • a copy of the information folder and all relevant forms • show and tell specimens • craft activities such as nestbox/bug hotel building, badge making, flower pressing, etc. • membership stands for natural history groups • a tannoy system to announce activities and results • a box of useful bits - antibacterial hand-gel, bin bags, tape, string, cable ties, scissors, etc. 10

14 It is a good idea to evaluate your event to see what worked well and what could be improved for next time. As organisers, you will probably be very busy on the day, so getting feedback from the public as well as the naturalists and volunteers will be essential for getting a well-rounded view. Evaluation is vitally important for developing future events, reporting to funders and in leveraging future funding. 7 Monitoring and Evaluation You can download an event evaluation pack from the Useful information to record includes: National BioBlitz Network who will also be interested to • visitor numbers (preferably broken down by age group) hear your results, feeding into national research about • number of species recorded BioBlitzes as a tool for public engagement and citizen • number of records collected science. The pack includes visitor questionnaires for both adults and children and advice on data collection. Feel • number of volunteers/naturalists engaged free to use these or adapt them for your event. • number of partner organisations involved Evaluation requires staff and/or volunteers to coordinate • the opinions and attitudes of your visitors, participating and collect the data, printed questionnaires and schools, volunteers, naturalists and staff appropriate stationery and staff time after the event to analyse the data. Rockpooling at Mothecombe BioBlitz in Devon Monitoring and evaluation 11

15 Enthusiastic volunteers are essential for helping to collect and organise samples and records as well as engaging with your visitors and conducting evaluation surveys 8 Recording your survey results 12

16 BioBlitz is a type of environmental citizen science - the volunteer collection of biodiversity and environmental information which contributes to expanding knowledge of the natural environment. As such, BioBlitzes should produce useful data that contributes to knowledge about site biodiversity. For most events this comes in the form of a list of species records for the site that are passed on to local and/or national databases. identification that you can get, the more useful the data, but WHAT IS A BIOLOGICAL RECORD? don’t guess if you’re not 100% sure. A biological record is a documented record of a particular t When he date it was seen. - species, in a particular area, on a particular date. Often recorders will only note the rare or interesting species the location of the record, ideally as a six figure - Where but a BioBlitz aims to record everything, common or rare, to grid reference. Grid references can be found on a variety build up a full picture of the biodiversity of a site on the day. of websites but in the field you can mark the location on If you are new to recording, contact your Local Records a map or use a GPS or mobile phone app. If you find the Centre for guidance or download the National Biodiversity same species in a different location, that is a separate record Darwin Guide to Recording Wildlife. Network’s so you can have multiple records for each species on your list. This is more useful than only recording each species THE MOST VITAL COMPONENTS OF A SPECIES 8 Recording your survey results once. RECORD ARE WHO, WHAT, WHEN AND WHERE: Biological records made by expert naturalists will form - Who found and identified the species? Once the Who the bulk of your species list, however giving the public a record is submitted it may need to be checked (verified) chance to take part is arguably the most important aspect by an expert and this process is made far easier if they can of a BioBlitz. Getting beginners involved in identification contact the person who made the original record. and recording is invaluable to cultivating an interest and - What is the name of the species? Give a common What appreciation of nature. and scientific name if you can, otherwise note down the higher group level e.g. spider, then seek help with your identification. Take a photo if you can, to support your record. Remember that the closer to species level Recording your survey results Sphinx ligustri Privet Hawkmoth, 13

17 RECORDING FORMS Some experts will need to take specimens away to ID them You can download and adapt a standard form from the so you will not get their lists until several weeks later. Make National BioBlitz Network website to collect your data or, sure you highlight this when revealing your final species alternatively, your Local Records Centre may be able to tally and update people via your website/social media provide you with recording forms in their preferred format. after the event. Busy experts may also need reminding to These forms have been designed to collect detailed and send over these records a couple of weeks after the event. useful records and will be best deployed with naturalists When announcing your grand species total (which can be and trained volunteers who can demonstrate their use to another publicity opportunity) use wording such as ‘so far’ members of the public. Naturalists may have an existing rather than ‘final’ as there may be additional records to standardised recording system they would prefer to use, so come from experts and they may be prompted to submit a scanner can be useful to copy information contained in any outstanding records by the publicity! their field notebooks. You do not need a complex records database to hold your To allow uninitiated visitors to collect their own records observations. An easy-to-use spreadsheet and trained you may wish to produce a public or child friendly ticklist people to enter the information will suffice. with photos of species that they may encounter, or a treasure hunt encouraging the collection of shells, seeds, If you are partnering with your Local Records Centre they 8 Recording your survey results leaves or similar species evidence to be converted into may be able to collate your records, verify and submit records later. them to the National Biodiversity Network Gateway database as well as using the data locally. Any marine CASE STUDY - BioBlitz Bingo at York and species data can be passed on to the Data Archive for Scarborough BioBlitzes Seabed Species and Habitats (DASSH) the national Data Archive Centre for marine life data. Unless otherwise “We like running a self-guided BioBlitz Bingo activity. requested, DASSH will pass all records to the National It’s an easy way of getting younger people and families Biodiversity Network Gateway. involved in the BioBlitz. Our bingo sheets consist of an A4 Alternatively, you can use iRecord, an online platform piece of paper with information and pictures about species created by the Biological Records Centre for submitting that are likely to be seen in the area, with boxes that people wildlife records directly to a national database. can tick once they’ve spotted them. It’s good to have a mix of things that people are CASE STUDY - iRecord DataHack at guaranteed to find e.g. 7-spot Ladybird, Blackbird, and Bristol BioBlitz things that are a little harder to spot or require a bit more identification skill e.g. Woodpigeon. We’ve found BioBlitz “As our BioBlitz fitted within a wider programme of Bingo works particularly well if you get over-run with wildlife recording events where on-site data entr y would visitors, as you can send them off on their own for a bit be difficult, we decided to hold a separate ‘DataHack’ with the sheet!” with our volunteers. We came up with this idea based on the technology focussed ‘hack days’ or ‘hackathons’ MAPS where computer programmers get together to work In order to record the wildlife that you find you will not collaboratively on solving a problem - often development only need to identify it but also accurately mark its location of a software application. with a grid reference. Your Local Records Centre or local Here we replaced programmers with volunteers and authority GIS team may be able to provide you with grid naturalists to solve the problem of turning our paper referenced maps of your site to use when recording. records into digital ones, crowdsourcing our data entr y Alternatively Ordnance Survey maps may be suitable. and taking our volunteers’ citizen science experience a step Ensure that you secure copyright permission from the map further. producer to reprint and use maps for this purpose. In the basement of a local pub we brought together 25 Copies of the map should be provided to naturalists and of our volunteers and lots of laptops and uploaded all volunteers when they go recording and you may want to of our records using iRecord. The iRecord team were get a large printout to display at Basecamp. able to provide us with a summar y page mapping all COLLATING SPECIES RECORDS of our records in real time as they were entered and keeping a scoreboard to add a competitive element. This Explain to participants how you intend to use the records was projected onto big screens so we could all track our they submit, so everyone taking part knows where progress. they will end up and how they will be shared. Members of the public will be interested to see their data being We followed the DataHack with a reward of pizza and incorporated and learning about how they can be used beer and our own wildlife themed pub quiz having entered (see section 13). nearly 3000 records of about 800 species in around 6 hours. The records will go on to be verified through iRecord Encourage naturalists to hand in recording forms and added to the NBN Gateway database. throughout the day, not all at the end. As far as possible, The volunteers loved it and the event even came in try to type up your species records on the day (include at at minimal cost.” least one laptop at Basecamp). Alternatively, you can pull together your volunteer capacity to enter all of the data at a separate ‘DataHack’ event to crowdsource your data entry (see case study to the right). 14

18 Health, safety and related documents As event organisers, you have a statutory duty of care. The safety of staff, volunteers and the public should always come first. The following policies, documents and checks will help ensure you are well prepared and know what to do if something goes wrong. HEALTH AND SAFETY Writing a risk assessment involves identifying potential Assign a named person to be responsible for health and hazards, assessing how they could harm staff, volunteers safety at your event, and provide t-shirts or badges to staff or the public, and evaluating the risk of them actually and volunteers, so it is clear who is involved in running it. 9 Health, safety and related documents happening. The final step in the process is to define and Ensure they can be contacted by the information desk and implement precautionary measures that either entirely advertise this as the point of contact for incidents. remove these hazards or reduce the likelihood of them Write a risk assessment. This is a legally required health happening to acceptable levels. and safety assessment of your event, including all activities. • Activities at night may require other considerations. Ensure that other organisations taking part prepare a risk Decide whether it is appropriate to limit numbers, assessment to cover the activities they are leading. Collate provide (or require participants to bring) torches and these prior to the event and make sure any precautionary high visibility vests, and always work in groups. In some measures are in place. situations a sign-up sheet may be required to ensure • Always put safety first and ensure that each activity is all participants return from the activity safely by a set covered within your risk assessment. Be particularly time. Collect phone numbers for all participants in case careful around water. anyone doesn’t sign back in and prepare an emergency • Have a central meeting point at Basecamp for all plan for anyone thought to be lost. activities, to enable a safety briefing to be carried out before activities start. OTHER DOCUMENTATION • Write a simple-to-follow accident and incident procedure • A Public Liability Insurance Certificate is required for all to ensure staff and volunteers know what to do in an public activities. emergency, including how to evacuate the site. Make • If you intend to take publicity photos, you will need an accident and incident form so you can log any that signed photo consent forms from anyone pictured, occur, how they were responded to and take measures agreeing to their image being used in this way. Once to avoid the same thing happening in future. they have completed a form, you could give them • Do all you can to protect children and vulnerable adults. wristbands or stickers so your photographer can identify A written child protection policy is a good idea, and key who has given consent. staff should be checked by the Disclosure and Barring • Collecting or surveying permits are required for some Service (formerly Criminal Records Bureau). Clearly species and habitats so seek advice where necessary. state at the event that children must be accompanied Landowners and your local statutory agency should be by a parent/guardian at all times, and avoid one-to-one aware if this is the case. For advice on collecting plant situations between children and adults. material see http://www.bsbi.org.uk/Collecting.pdf. • A simple to follow lost child procedure will ensure staff For advice on collecting invertebrate material see and volunteers know what to do if a child is lost or http://www.amentsoc.org/publications/online/ found. collecting-code.html. • Whatever the size of your event, you will need to • If sampling fish, local by-law exemption letters may be arrange first aid cover. There are no fixed guidelines required and can be obtained from your local IFCA (sea as to what is required - it is related to the level of and estuaries) or the Environment Agency (fresh water). injury risk. As a minimum, you will need one or more • Compile an emergency contacts list, including phone trained first aiders on duty at a time and a first aid kit numbers for key staff, first aiders and volunteers. at Basecamp. Contact your local Red Cross or St John Ambulance branch for advice. Keep copies of the above, along with any other useful information such as a timetable, 15 maps and briefing notes, within a folder at the information point.

19 Publicity Spend some time planning how to promote your 10 Publicity BioBlitz as effectively as possible. The aims and scale of the event will influence how widely you want to spread the word. A mini beach at York BioBlitz! WORKING WITH THE MEDIA (NEWSPAPER, GENERAL PROMOTION TELEVISION AND RADIO) • Register your event with the National BioBlitz Network to get your own event page on the BioBlitz website. • Getting information about your event into the media can be a valuable and cost-effective way to gain publicity. • Invite groups and contacts you think will be interested, and ask everyone in your partnership to do the same. • Decide on your story before contacting anyone. Remember to make your message as ‘newsworthy’ as • You may want to invite a celebrity as an added ‘hook’. possible - journalists receive a lot of requests, so yours • Advertise locally in the weeks leading up to your BioBlitz needs to stand out. (using flyers in libraries, banners at the venue, newsletters • A good story will have human interest and be of local etc). relevance (for example, local communities getting • Social media including Facebook, Twitter, email involved in a positive activity). Events that are novel, newsgroups, online biodiversity-related communities and extreme, large-scale or in interesting locations also blogs can be useful publicity tools. stand out. • Target existing social groups to take part in activities, • Contact the National BioBlitz Network for advice on such as Scouts/Guides groups, walking for health publicity and media. groups, youth clubs, disability support groups or religious congregations. Getting leaders of such groups on board ON THE DAY often attracts people who would not normally get • Leaflets can be handed out on the day in and around the involved in a wildlife activity and allows you to target location to encourage passers-by to attend your event. specific audiences. Maybe you could tailor a specific • If you use social media then advertise the links to activity to a group such as a cycling safari for your local members of the public so that they can engage with cycling group? your event in a virtual way too. If you have sufficient • You may wish to recruit some volunteers to help with volunteers, ask some of them to tweet or Facebook on publicity - they may have different social networks to your behalf to create a buzz around the event. Tweet to you, so can help to widen the reach of your publicity. @BioBlitzUK to be retweeted. AFTER THE EVENT Communicate species totals, interesting and exciting finds and other key information, including photographs to the media. Make a note of and photograph anything ‘newsworthy’ during the event and communicate this to the public. 16

20 Ideas for activities Public engagement is a big part of a BioBlitz and a range of drop-in and guided activities are often the best way to inspire and enthuse your visitors about the natural world and the importance of recording wildlife. 11 Ideas for activities CASE STUDY - Discovery zones at Alexandra Palace Park BioBlitz “At the Alexandra Palace Park BioBlitz we were expecting Each zone was enclosed with colourful bunting and had large numbers of people due to the event being run in a gazebo at its entrance so visitors could find out what partnership with the BBC. In order to manage so many activities were on offer. The event leaflet included space participants we decided to create three ‘Discover y Zones’ for children to get a stamp at each zone – when they had within our BioBlitz area. Each was themed with different collected all three they received a goody bag. We asked activities. The ‘Bug Hunters zone’ included pond dipping naturalists and experts to spend part of their time in the and hedgerow surveys, and the ‘Woodland Explorers zones and part recording in the rest of the site, to ensure zone’ included a tree trail and leaf litter sorting. In the that whilst the whole site was covered, our visitors also got ‘Grassland Safari zone’ a section of the field had been left to interact with the experts. We had over 8000 visitors on to grow long for several weeks before the event to allow the day, and this worked really well to ensure ever yone sweep netting, and there was also a worm got a high quality experience.” charming competition. Sophie checks small mammal traps at the Wembury BioBlitz in Devon 17

21 Themed arts and craft activities, like building this giant Garden Tiger Moth at Green Man Festival, can be great ice-breakers and allow everyone to get involved 11 Ideas for activities GUIDED ACTIVITIES CASE STUDY - Worm charming at Science Interaction with a knowledgeable person is a great draw to Oxford BioBlitz a BioBlitz and guided activities are popular. You could pitch “Worm charming is a great guided activity to run, as these as expeditions from Basecamp, in search of species absolutely all ages can take part. Mark out a grid of 2m to bring back and identify. Remember to provide for a range x 2m squares using tent pegs and hazard tape. In some of of ages. Here are some ideas: the squares place a garden fork, others children’s musical • guided walks to see bats, wildflower walk, dawn chorus, instruments, and leave others clear. All squares will need a fungus foray, etc. plastic cup to put the worms in. The three worm charming • surveying activities such as quadrat surveys, moth methods are: trapping, transect walking, tree or lichen surveys, etc. 1. fork twanging - pushing a garden fork into the ground • bug hunting, pond dipping, etc. These kinds of activities and wiggling it back and forth are very popular with families and can often be repeated 2. music - play musical instruments throughout the day 3. stamping your feet Often, partner organisations and/or natural history groups Families can take a 2m x 2m plot each. At a set time, blow will be happy to run such activities. Ensure that all those a whistle or claxon to start the worm charming. Families leading activities are given a recording form to keep a note have 15 minutes to get as many worms out of the ground of the species they see (or even better, are accompanied as possible (without digging!). Once the 15 minutes is up, by a volunteer to act as a scribe), and that they show their count how many worms each family has in their plastic group where they can go for identification help after the cup and award a small prize to the winner (the person with activity. the most). Then take a closer look at the worms using a microscope or identify them with the help of an ID guide.” CASE STUDY - Snorkelling at Looe BioBlitz “Snorkelling is a fantastic way to observe life beneath the waves and collect records of additional species in the shallow area at the bottom of the shore. We set up camp on a busy beach and provided equipment, safety cover and expert guidance from trained snorkel instructors and ran it as a drop-in activity for all ages. Participants recorded their finds with waterproof cameras and on dive slates. The excitement of snorkelling for the first time and the opportunity to see the amazing underwater life in the area first-hand inspired a group of new recorders who may not have joined in with the event otherwise.” 18

22 Microscopes linked up to a flat screen TV allow lots of people to see at once 11 Ideas for activities Short missions included ‘find as many different leaves on SELF GUIDED ACTIVITIES the ground as you can in 10 minutes and bring them back to • Recording forms and maps can be given to Basecamp for identification’.” knowledgeable participants to make their own records. DROP IN ACTIVITIES • A nature trail around the site with printed ‘spotter Best hosted around Basecamp, activities such as those sheets’ of target species to look for (for example, listed below can be run throughout the day so that visitors the top five to find or a hunt for alien invaders). can take part between guided activities and attract the • Send participants on ‘missions’ to find different attention of passing members of the public. species artefacts that can be identified by an expert • Basecamp Blitz - intense surveying of the species back at Basecamp, for example, shells, feathers, found around Basecamp. leaves, nuts. • Micro pond dipping - a tank with example specimens • Ask participants to photograph what they find from your pond dipping station. and bring their images to Basecamp, where they • Microscopes always draw a lot of interest, especially can either be identified by a naturalist, or uploaded if linked to a laptop or flat screen monitor. The monitor to iSpot for identification. If you are entering data can help you explain what is being looked at, and using iRecord you can upload the photo alongside several people can interact at once. Try analysing a the record. Remember to get a signed photo use sample of soil, sand, plankton, or pond water. consent form if you want to re-use any images. • Wildlife-related stands and stalls, nestbox building, face painting and crafts. Don’t underestimate the value CASE STUDY - BioBlitz missions at of these as icebreaker activities and a way to capture attention. Mothecombe BioBlitz • Competitions, such as wildlife photography/drawing “We produced a series of ‘missions’, which could be taken and guess the number of species that will be found, by families from Basecamp and completed in a relatively can be really popular. short time. There were two types of missions - longer, more • Information area - even if local organisations detailed missions, printed on A4 sheets and laminated (e.g. friends groups, conservation or volunteering and ‘quick missions’ printed on small slips of paper, organisations, natural history societies, scuba diving laminated and put in a bucket as a lucky dip. Both covered clubs etc) aren’t able to come along to run an activity the full range of habitats in the survey area and a broad or promote their work, they may like to provide you taxonomic range and most required the participants to with a poster or other display. This is often popular collect evidence of their finds. Detailed missions included both with the organisations and the public who attend ‘find and photograph different types of crab’ and included the event. a simple ID sheet for common species. 19

23 TIPS FOR WORKING AFTER DARK TIPS FOR PUBLIC ACTIVITIES Night surveys are among the most exciting aspects of a • A mixture of scheduled and drop in activities is best. BioBlitz. They are something most of us don’t get to do • Provide clear information about what is going on and how very often and a great opportunity to see wildlife that is to join in. hidden by day. This novelty appeal can be a real draw for scientists, naturalists and public alike, but it does need • Think about how to encourage people to take part in careful planning. recording activities. Goody bags, stickers or badges for children who complete one or more activities are always • Safety is paramount. Think carefully about the value of popular. remaining on site throughout the night and place safety first. In open public sites think carefully about security and • Running structured activities with the public is very 11 Ideas for activities who else might use the site after dark. rewarding but can also be tiring, so try to rotate duties • Decide who you want to be on site, and ask participants between volunteers. to sign in and out of Basecamp. Decide how many (if any) • Advance bookings on individual activities helps with members of the public you will have on site, at what times predicting visitor numbers and can help with attendance and take bookings in advance. Public participants should barriers (such as weather conditions) as booked be supervised at all times. participants have a level of commitment. • Will you need to provide sleeping arrangements? Get site TIPS FOR WILDLIFE SURVEYS permissions before allowing people to camp on site. • Remember that naturalists will most likely want to do • Ensure the site is secure and adequately lit. The main some ‘solo surveying’ as it is often difficult to lead a group access routes to and from Basecamp should be obvious. and record wildlife simultaneously. Rotating shifts or • Write clear emergency procedures and brief everyone providing a few hours of surveying time whilst closed to who will be on site overnight. the public can work well. • Work in pairs or small groups (never alone) and take • Invite as many naturalists as possible from local societies particular care around water. and recording schemes. This is a great way to share • Ask everyone to wear a reflective jacket and carry a expertise and enthusiasm and build a detailed and whistle and torch. rounded inventory. It is important to involve these groups • Be sensitive to people who live nearby and notify the local in the planning as early as possible. community and police/coastguard that you will be on site. • In coastal locations, tide times can influence when certain • Ensure there are always at least two people at Basecamp. surveys must take place. Your schedule needs to have room for flexibility. • Organise plenty of food and hot drinks and ensure you have 24-hour access to toilet facilities. • For coastal events, dive surveys can add to the survey greatly. Engage with Seasearch groups and local dive • Data entry and species identification can continue clubs. If possible arrange for divers to bring photos and through the night and it is great to be able to provide video back to Basecamp for public display. up-to-date species total at the start of day two. However, make sure everyone gets a rest! • Work to the skills of those present and the habitats available. AFTER-DARK ACTIVITIES CASE STUDY - Nocturnal activities at Some surveys can only be conducted at night, for example, Looe BioBlitz bat surveys and moth trapping, but night-time activities “Night time is probably the most fun part of a BioBlitz. bring extra health and safety risks. It may be best to leave Start at dusk with a bat walk, ideally led by a local bat the following activities to your naturalists and volunteers or group. Arrange it so that the bat walk ends at the location limit public numbers through a booking system. where your moth traps are set up, so bat walk participants • Bats are easy to track with a bat detector and ideal for carr y straight on to moth trapping. Circulate around a guided walks, although if you are running your BioBlitz in number of light traps if possible, and keep checking as new summer, remember that it doesn’t get dark until quite late! moth species may turn up throughout the night. Contact your local bat group. The Looe BioBlitz also featured midnight rockpooling. • Light trapping for moths is well suited to public We took a limited group of people out onto the rocks with involvement either on the night or by examining the catch a strict signing in and out procedure. Ever yone had a head the next morning. Contact your local moth group. torch and fluorescent vest. Many animals are more active at night so you see much more than in the day when • Live trapping of small mammals should be conducted by they’re all hiding underneath the seaweed!” trained people - remember to check traps regularly. The Mammal Society can advise. www.mammal.org.uk • Many terrestrial invertebrates are very active at night. You can search by hand or set pitfall, flight interception or malaise traps to check in the morning. • Beach surveys and rockpooling are completely different after dark compared with during the day - the beach and foreshore come alive with invertebrates at night. Survey by torchlight or set pitfall traps. Check tide times and pay particular attention to safety. • Record birdsong at dusk and as dawn approaches, or run a dawn chorus walk. 20

24 Involving Schools If your BioBlitz is in term-time, you may want to invite local schools to take part. We’ve often found that with a Friday to Saturday structure, children will bring their parents back on the second day! 12 Involving Schools Invite them well in advance, bearing in mind that it will The secret to a successful schools session at your BioBlitz is to recognise the motivations and requirements of all of take schools time to organise supply teacher cover, transport to your site, and get permissions from parents. the key participants. It is vital to get teachers to ‘buy in’ to your event as their motivation will be the most significant Give them specific time slots to attend and an idea of what activities they will cover. The teachers may want to factor in whether or not their class attends. visit the site in advance to assess any health and safety risks. A Sunday to Monday structure can also work and it is nice to be able to show schools the specimens found on day one and provide totals so far, although, a fresh team of enthusiastic and wide awake educators is recommended! CONTENT PRACTICALITIES • If you can match activities with school curricula • Recruiting school groups with limited access to travel and learning objectives it may make your event budgets and limited days out of the classroom available more appealing to schools, especially if you can also can be time consuming so start early. demonstrate strong science context. • Think about the practicalities for the school. Will they • Demonstrate scientific method by creating a hypothesis have a space to have lunch? Is there coach parking? for the students to test or let them come up with their Can they walk to the site? Will there be a lot of own. Perhaps you could compare the biodiversity of two administration? different habitats on the site? • Provide a risk assessment, photo consent form and • Providing related classroom activities for teachers to briefing for teachers well in advance, to reduce the take back to school or in advance of the event increases administrative burden on them. the educational value of your event. There are teachers’ • Split classes into smaller groups (10 or so) as they will be BioBlitz resources on the National BioBlitz Network easier to manage and you will be able to provide a better website. experience. • Feed back the data collected to the school. They may • Involve the teachers and group leaders in the activities as wish to write up their experiments and/or do some well as the students. analysis of the data. • Ensure that the naturalists leading the activity feel • If your survey area includes school grounds, send experts comfortable working with a school group. Discuss content to the school and ask students to undertake surveys of the with them well in advance and remember that they may habitats there. have varying levels of experience of working with school groups, so may appreciate some extra support. 21

25 Demonstrating different surveying methods such as ‘sweep netting’ and ‘tree shaking’ can be followed up by helping children identify specimens that they have found for themselves 12 Involving Schools 22

26 After the event Post-event analysis is really important and maximises the value of what you have achieved. Here are some ideas for making the most of the enthusiasm and wildlife records generated by your BioBlitz. 13 After the event MAKING THE MOST OF THE SPECIES RECORDS Before the data are made publicly available they need to It’s important to make the most of the wildlife data that be checked by experts who can verify the accuracy of the your BioBlitz gathers. The end point for the data you collect identification. Entering your data into the online recording should be the National Biodiversity Network Gateway (via system iRecord on the day or passing them to Local the Data Archive for Seabed Species and Habitats (DASHH) Records Centres and national recording schemes after the for marine data). Data are shared through the Gateway and event can help ensure that the records are verified and DASHH by many organisations and they make easy access made available for use. points for anyone wishing to view and use the information. MAKING THE MOST OF THE EVENT Also try to: • After the event, make sure that you feed back to • identify any species that require follow-up work. your volunteers in a timely fashion. • edit the species list and do a simple analysis of • Thank those who helped for their input and the dataset. You could look at total numbers of ask for feedback on what worked well and species within different taxonomic groups, ‘first what could be improved next time. This could records’ for the county, region or even country, be a thank you email, perhaps including some rare and protected species, proportions of photographs of the event or some specific native and non-native species or compare your feedback about the activities, and a total number findings with previous surveys of the site. of species found. • circulate the species list. Verified records will • Evaluate the event’s success and reflect on be of interest to local natural history societies lessons learned - feed back to the National and recording schemes, Local Records Centres, BioBlitz Network. (see Section 7). statutory bodies and council ecologists. • Circulate a brief report of the findings to • feed relevant findings into site management scientists and naturalists, volunteers, the practices. landowner and any sponsors. • follow up any interesting scientific stories. • Send a snappy summary of findings to local media contacts so that members of the public who attended will be able to see the results. • Arrange follow-up talks with local schools and communities. • Start planning for next year! 23

27 Acknowledgements The authors would like to thank all of the partners and BioBlitz event organisers who have contributed to this publication, as well as all the volunteers, naturalists, participants and organisers of BioBlitz events across the UK. 14 Resources and links Photos copyright Chris West, Sarah West, Natural History Museum, Bristol Natural History Consortium, Jon Craig, Paula Lightfoot, OPAL Adapted from the original Guide to Running a BioBlitz, supported by: Resources and links • Links to current public-facing wildlife surveys: • You can download a copy of this guide www.nhm.ac.uk/ukbiodiversity and additional free resources from www.BioBlitzuk.org.uk • Information about recording marine species, free identification resources and species • The Darwin Guide to Biological Recording information: (National Biodiversity Network): www.mba.ac.uk/recording www.nbn.org.uk/Useful-things/ Publications Darwin-Guide-to • National Biodiversity Network: Recording-Wildlife-pdf.aspx ww.nbn.org.uk • BioBlitzes in Yorkshire: • Data Archive for Seabed Species and Habitats www.opalexplorenature. Lessons learned (DASHH): org/sites/default files/7 image/ www.dassh.ac.uk BioBlitz-lessons-learned.pdf • iRecord: • Find a natural history group near you: www.brc.ac.uk/irecord www.nhm.ac.uk/naturegroups • Local Records Centres: • Get help with identifying species online: www.alerc.org.uk www.ispot.org.uk 24

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