NBN Conference 2020 Winter reflections and looking ahead to Spring 2021 and beyond

NBN Conference 2020 Winter reflections and looking ahead to Spring 2021 and beyond - Global :

The National Biodiversity Network (NBN) NBN Conference 2020 was a wonderful opportunity for the iSpot and NBN Teams to work more closely together, strengthening our biodiversity recording communities, and network connections. The Open University (OU), through iSpot, is an active member of the NBN (nbn.org.uk) so we were proud to co-host the conference which welcomed over 200 delegates, their highest attendance figures to date, from a huge cross section of UK biodiversity and wildlife recording organisations.

Here are a few highlights, for those of you unable to make it. “The NBN at 20 – Changing Times” theme marked the 20th Anniversary of the NBN Trust, and was incredibly poignant for 2020. Covid-19 pandemic restrictions meant adapting to and embracing the new virtual world we find ourselves in and “going digital” The NBN and OU iSpot Team ran the 1-day event via Microsoft Teams, a new platform for many to navigate at that time. Viewed positively by 77% of our delegates, going fully online also opened up opportunities for a wider NBN audience, championing the possibilities for widening participation and increasing equality, diversity, and inclusivity across the network.

Thanks again to all our ‘iSpotters’ who participated in the iSpot NBN BioBlitz, particularly those who couldn’t attend the event. The BioBlitz allowed delegates a more practical level of engagement ahead of the conference; using iSpot to observe, record and identify November’s Winter wildlife and encouraging everyone to brave the colder weather and get out in nature to boost wellbeing. 

Luckily, the BioBlitz came at a time when lockdown allowed for time in nature; in gardens, parks and open spaces, and government regulations were adhered to. Overall, 79% viewed the BioBlitz as a positive addition, and overall participation contributed to observations on iSpot during the pandemic. So look out for another BioBlitz nature bonanza for NBN 2021!

Janice and Mike presented the results of the iSpot NBN BioBlitz and introduced Cos4Cloud and DECIDE new citizen science projects, which we are partners in, watch the presentation here. These projects emphasise increasing importance of developments for citizen science and biological recording: Cos4Cloud using Citizen Observatories and technologies to increase the quality and quantity of biodiversity and environmental observations, with iSpotnature.org as one of the four biodiversity Citizen Observatories (COs) involved. The DECIDE project focuses on maximising results by better understanding recorder motivations. Look out for more news on opportunities to get involved.

Key highlights from the conference include presentations from Dr Cecilia Medupin, Lecturer, School of Natural Sciences, Convener of Women in Environmental Sciences, The University of Manchester, who gave the Opening Keynote Address on ‘Biodiversity of Macroinvertebrates, Public Engagement, Inclusion & Sustainable Development Goals’ . While Sir Charles Burrell, Knepp Castle Estate, presented the Sir John Burnett Memorial Lecture on ‘New habitats for a connected nature scape’. Read our NBN Conference 2020 review in a recent Cos4Cloud project blog here. You can also access the programme for the day and presentations on the NBN website here.

As we reflect on this, the iSpot Team say a fond goodbye and good luck to Jo Judge after 5 years in post as Chief Executive Officer (CEO): NBN Farewell and Thank You, and give an early warm welcome to Lisa Chilton appointed as new CEO NBN Trust. Lisa will be joining the NBN in April 2021. No doubt, planning for the NBN Conference 2021 will be underway soon so WATCH THIS SPACE for more information on the next one!

Other iSpot activity highlights:

Other activities we have been involved with recently include International Women’s Day on March 8, with their #ChooseToChallenge theme, highlighting the importance of celebrating women’s achievements, raising awareness against bias, and taking action for equality. Cos4Cloud has some incredible, inspiring women involved in the project, and we are proud to be part of this, championing equality, diversity and inclusivity in citizen science: Know the women that are part of Cos4Cloud!

We are excited to offer opportunities for our iSpot community of users, enthusiasts, and experts to collaborate with our Cos4Cloud project. Cos4Cloud ran the first of two co-design workshops recently; but don't worry if you missed them, there are more opportunities coming up to participate so why not join and be part of our Cos4Cloud community!

On the radar for our next quarter:

There will be more iSpot community and project developments coming up, so keep an eye here, on the forums and Twitter.

Acknowledging Earth Day 2021 on 22nd April, iSpot will be celebrating the theme Restoration SitesIt is Citizen Science Month: April 2021 and we are joining in with a few iSpot activities and plans are underway for us to be "part of the solution" for #BiodiversityDay #ForNature on 22nd May 2021.

And don’t forget to engage with our ❤️WEEKLY iFOCUS - SPRING! | UK and Ireland BioBlitz to celebrate Spring’s equinox between 18th – 22nd March 2021 (use the tag 2021spring) with new projects every week on iFocus Weekly to keep us all going till then! And if that's not enough, maybe you'd like to create one of your own ❤️iFOCUS WEEKLY - GUIDE | iSpot Projects...

Let’s hope the warmer weather of Spring brings positive changes to the state of nature and shape of the pandemic for 2021, and for other events and activities throughout the year. We can’t wait to update everyone on progress of iSpot, Cos4Cloud, DECIDE and our other projects and future links with the NBN. You never know, maybe the NBN community can meet for a face to face celebration of nature this time round.

17 Mar 2021
Rachel R