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UK Awards to celebrate biological recording and information sharing

The National Biodiversity Network wants to recognise significant achievement and celebrate success in biological recording and information sharing. The NBN Secretariat has therefore established a new national award scheme in partnership with the Biological Records Centre and the National Forum for Biological Recording. These awards will be made annually to individuals, groups of people or organisations that are making outstanding contributions to biological recording and improving our understanding of the natural world.
Nominations are now open

We are now accepting nominations for the inaugural 2015 awards sponsored by Swarovski Optik UK. The awards will be presented at a special ceremony on the first evening of the NBN Conference on Thursday 19th November 2015, at the Merchant Taylor’s Hall, Central York. -

See more at:

from where you can download a nomination form

Award Categories

Terrestrial and freshwater:

  • Gilbert White youth award
  • Gilbert White adult award


Marine and coastal:

  • David Robertson youth award
  • David Robertson adult award


Gilbert White

Gilbert White (1720 – 1793) is remembered in these awards because his name is synonymous with biological recording. He was one of the first English naturalists to make careful observations of his surroundings and record these observations in a systematic way. He transformed the way we look at the natural world and is recognised as one of the fathers of ecology.

David Robertson

David Robertson (1806–1896) was a Scottish naturalist who founded the University Marine Biological Station at Millport, which opened in 1897.  Millport Marine Biological Station closed in 2013, but reopened in 2014 as Millport Field Centre thanks to the Field Studies Council.
Eligibility and criteria
Eligibility for both categories:

  • Youth awards will be given to a person (or group) not yet 18 years of age on 30th July 2015.
  • Adult awards will be given to a person, group or organisation.

The awards committee will consider the significance of the contribution (voluntary or otherwise) made to biological recording and/or improving our understanding of the UK’s biodiversity. This could include filling geographic or taxonomic gaps in our knowledge, encouraging and facilitating participation, verifying records, teaching or mentoring recorders, or creating and sharing tools and resources to support biological recording. 

  • Nominations may be made by anyone (including people and organisations that are not Network members).
  • Individuals, groups of people or entire organisations are eligible for the awards.
  • Nominations can be made for more than one person

Closing date and winners

Nominations close on Wednesday 30th September 2015.
Successful nominees will be notified by the end of October and invited to attend the awards ceremony.


Sunday June 28th. We will be travelling to Low Fremington.


Monday June 29th Downholme Bridge 10.00a.m.

Take the A6109 from either Leyburn or Richmond. Take the turning for Marske over a narrow bridge. There is a lay-by after 400m. Meeting Place SE109993. We surveying in the valley towards Marrick Park. Mrs Julia Carr has kindly given us permission to survey on her farm. My mobile 07703 565314 works here.


Tuesday June 30th  and Wednesday 1st July, 10.30a.m. Muker 10.30a.m.

Meet in the village car park SD972918 from where we will visit the Angram – Keld areas.


Thursday July 2nd  and Friday July 3rd  Braithwaite Hall 10.00a.m.

Take the road from East Witton to Coverham. Meeting place at SE11758590, best to park just through the field gate (bridleway) to the north in the field. There is no restriction on parking unless there will be more than say 10 cars?


Seb Mankelow (the Ranger) be there and will liaise with the tenant. It would be very valuable to have your opinion on the moorland condition, Braithwaite Wood (upland alder wood pasture, which is just starting an EWGS agreement) and the riverside woodland blocks have native large-leaved lime.The southern area is part of the Nidderdale Moors SSSI for breeding moorland birds. There are some calcareous fields to the south with the River Cover to the north.


As usual Adrian Norris and I will be staying at The Barn Home Farm Low Fremington from Sunday to Wednesday. Adrian will not be available Friday, but I will be staying in Ripon where there is reasonable mobile coverage. Mobile phone coverage is not good in the west part of the Dale and we can be contacted on 01748 884878 around 8.00am and 6.00pm in the evening. 


The Hudswell Wood survey has now passed through the National Trust reviews. There are some minor amendments to be accepted before the final .pdf document goes on the intranet. Andy Foster, the Senior Biological Surveyor in the Conservation Directorate has written a vote of thanks to the YNU for their assistance with updating the survey.


Thursday 13th and Friday 14th August. Beningbrough Hall. YO30 1DD SE

Meet 10.00am in the National Trust car park SE516586. The plan is to survey the garden as the National Trust has little information on garden biodiversity together with an assessment of the parkland and the riverbank. If you are not a National Trust member, bring your YNU membership card and I will arrange free admission.


I have copies of the Biological Conservation Assessments done in the 1990s for both these National Trust properties. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

'My name is Rina 

I am a PhD student at the University of York.  I am doing a project on Environmental Monitoring as Participatory Science. For this project we would like to tap in the experiences of community members who are already involved in voluntary environmental monitoring through questionnaires
 and interviews. This experience can be of any type, from monitoring bird activities to being active in recording species on the nature reserve.

 Understanding people's motivations to volunteer in these kinds of activities will be very useful; we are particularly interested in the difficulties in getting people involved in such activities.'

If you are interested in helping Rina with her styudy then you can download the questionairre here

MapMate Users’ Group          

The YNU and Butterfly Conservation (Yorkshire Branch) have started a MapMate users group. The intention is to enable users to renew or join at a much reduced subscription rate (we need a minimum of 25 users but are aiming for 50 plus). The scheme will be administered by BC (Yorkshire Branch) and it will be open to members of both societies, affiliated groups and individuals. Penny Relf <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> will help in organising this.

We would like to compile a list of, names, email addresses and the MapMate unique identifiers (CUKs) of existing MapMate users interested in renewing their licences via this scheme. Potential users should also register their interest. If you wish to start using MapMate should contact the group to obtain an installation disk and be allocated a unique CUK.

Note: although the initiative is via the Lepidoptera Group there are many users who use MapMate for recording a wide range of other groups including plants and dragonflies and we would encourage them to join in with us.

As a registered charity the YNU is subject to the stipulations of the Charities Act. It thus has to be managed by a board of trustees who are elected by the membership at an Annual General Meeting (AGM) and who are jointly and severally legally and financially responsible for the good governance of the charity. Holding an AGM is a requirement for a registered charity. At the AGM the members:  

  1. Elect trustees in such numbers and for such terms as are appropriate. Guidance on this is issued by the Charity Commissioners. The YNU has a maximum of 9 trustees who are elected for 3 years on a rotational basis, three requiring re-election or replacement each year. The trustees are required to elect a Treasurer and a Chair from among their number and such other officers as they see fit.  

  1. Approve the Report & Accounts of the charity. The statutory officers (i.e. the Treasurer and the Chairman) have to sign the accounts which have to be audited  

  1. Appoint auditors  

These are what are known as governance matters that can only be dealt with at an AGM However if the members so wish, other issues can be considered, but YNU practice is for non- governance issues such as the programmes of field meetings to be dealt with at other fora. The Natural Sciences Forum and the Educational Committee are our main meetings for these purposes.   

For other governance issues such as a motion of no confidence in the Board of Trustees or changes of substance to the written constitution, including changes in the charity’s aims and objectives, advance notice has to be given to the membership. Such issues would normally be debated on and decided  at a Special General Meeting called for that purpose. Any proposed changes in aims and objectives have to be reported to the Charity Commissioners since they could affect charitable status.   

It is of course perfectly possible that non governance issues could be deemed by the membership to be of more importance than conventional governance issues. When such issues arise it is far from clear in which fora they should be debated.  An example of such an issue during my time as Chair was the merging of The Naturalist and the Bulletin into The (new) Naturalist. A decision was made to allow discussion at both the (then) Natural Science Committee and the AGM. In retrospect I am not sure that this was the best way of dealing with it. A special general meeting on a clear motion and with a proper briefing paper laying out the financial and other implications of alternatives might have been better.   


The YNU has two classes of membership:  

Individual members 

Affiliated societies.  

Our constitution gives these two categories equal status. Each member or affiliated society receives one copy of the Union’s regular publications (Naturalist, Bird Report, Lepidoptera Report), has the right to attend all open meetings (excluding thus the Executive which is a governance meeting of the trustees; only members attend the Education Committee but all YNU members including members of affiliated societies can join the Committee) and has one vote at those meetings; can join any (or all) of the sections and participate in section activities, and participate in the Union’s excursions.    

Why should members of affiliated societies join the YNU?  

The affiliation fee for a society is £30 pa (c.f £25 for individual membership)  so if two or more society members wish to participate in Union events or to join a section they are getting these benefits at a discount c.f. individual members; the discount increasing with the size of the affiliated society membership. The attributable costs to the YNU of the Union’s activities are however small, amounting only to public liability insurance and room hire for indoor activities so the subsidy here is of little consequence and in any case can be justified as contributing to the YNU’s objectives of promoting the study and recording of Yorkshire wildlife. The traditional assumption within the YNU has been that if a member of an affiliated society develops his or her natural history skills through participating in YNU events then they will join the Union as an individual member. It isn’t clear whether this belief is still justified and I know of numerous members of affiliated societies who question whether there is any advantage to them from joining the YNU. This question was asked in various forms at the last meeting of the NSF. The answer is that the only overt benefit of individual membership of the Union is a personal copy of its regular publications which comes at a cost of £25pa. But people don’t normally subscribe to charities for financial benefit; they subscribe because they support their charitable objectives, and the tax concessions to charities are based on this assumption. Membership of the YNU rests on a commitment to its charitable purposes: promoting the study and recording of Yorkshire wildlife. If this commitment is lacking we only retain members by the value, to them, of our regular publications.    

Voting rights of members of affiliated societies  

For a society to exercise its vote it has to appoint a delegate. The requirements of good governance are that the Union compiles a list of delegates and keeps records of their attendance at meetings where voting is possible. In order to do this it has to contact its affiliated societies in writing before the meeting asking for the name of the delegate. If the delegate of a society is also an individual member of the Union then he or she has two votes. Delegates would have to declare when they are voting twice and the voting records would have to record this. The simplest way of doing this would be by issuing voting cards.   

The Union has never met these requirements in its activities, for the reasons that they are cumbersome and costly and that the importance of the issues voted on does not warrant the expense. Our practice at present is as follows:  

  1. The AGM is confined to the three governance issues which in the normal run of events are unexceptional. Where possible votes on these issues are achieved by the Chair asking whether anyone wishes to dissent from the motion and when no-one does, declaring the motion carried nem. con. By tradition a list of affiliated societies is read out at the meeting and the meeting indicates which of the societies has members present. In many cases several members of a society are present but no attempt is made to determine which if any of those members is the nominated delegate of the society.    

  1. Abnormal governance issues such as changes to the constitution are decided at Special General Meetings. At any future SGMs we of necessity would have to apply the correct voting procedures and require nominated delegates.    

  1. Allowing free votes at the NSF without determining delegate status. Under the rules drawn up when the NSF was founded, any individual member and member of an affiliated society can attend and again often several members of a society are present. Members of the society hosting the AGM are sometimes present in numbers as was the case last year. While technically votes taken at an NSF do not meet the requirements for good governance and thus cannot be binding on the Executive, they would not be challenged unless there were financial or other governance implications that the trustees were unhappy with (e.g. they require action at variance with the Union’s charitable purposes) or the meeting, typically because of the small number of attendees, was believed not to be representative of the Union.  

I suggest that, subject to discussion in the NSF and the Executive,  we continue with these practices.  


John Bowers