Skip to main content


Data use and data sharing policies

This document sets out our policy on sharing and use of the data we hold. The policy helps us achieve a rational and consistent approach towards the management of data availability and use. It is intended to help our data providers and users better understand our aims and intentions. We want those that provide us with data to understand how they will be used and made available to others. We want those that use the data we hold to understand the rationale behind any constraints we place on the availability of data.

Our Aims and Objectives

The Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service (SBIS) is the centre of reference for all information relating to wildlife in Suffolk. It maintains an up-to-date record of sites and species found in the County and makes the data available for conservation, research, monitoring, education and general information. The Centre aims to promote a better understanding of Suffolk's wildlife by encouraging and coordinating biological recording within the County and through the publication of guides, surveys and scientific works on Suffolk wildlife. Suffolk organisations and recorders have a shared vision of an independent and objective information service which collates, manages and supplies biodiversity data for the benefit of everyone. The Information Service acts as the local focus for volunteer recorders and organisations for the management of biodiversity information and provides services to local users. Users can access the data that they need without difficulty or delay and can then use their time and expertise to apply the information to inform better decisions and actions.

Data Sources

SBIS collects, manages, and archives data relating to all wildlife in Suffolk. The database of species information covers all taxonomic groups. Although most data relates to modern sightings, we are also interested in historic records particularly where these help to provide context for assessing change. The Information Service also collects information on sites, these cover designated sites (SSSIs, CWS etc.) and the wider countryside. GIS mapping of the extent and distribution of BAP Habitats is ongoing.

Data Use

When data are received they undergo a process of quality control prior to archive storage. Checks are made to ensure that grid references are accurate and, where appropriate (e.g. rare species or species that are difficult to identify), records may be sent to county recorders for validation. All data resources are archived electronically on secure systems to ensure that a copy of the original data remains available for use by future generations. SBIS progresses metadata and data (in standard format) to the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Gateway with the permission of the Data provider.

Data Sharing

SBIS is committed to promoting the use of the data held within the archive. The data resources should be available for use in not-for-profit decision making, research, education and other public-benefit purposes. To this end, SBIS makes its data freely available over the World Wide Web. However, there may be some circumstances in which SBIS, as a responsible data custodian, may need to restrict access to all or part of some data resources. Whenever restrictions are applied the justification and rationale behind the decision are documented and made available. Reasons why SBIS might restrict access to data holding are listed below:

  • If the release of certain data is likely to increase the risk of environmental damage or put particularly sensitive species at risk.
  • If the release of data is likely to jeopardise the supply of data and collation of future data resources. SBIS is a data custodian and does not own the data resources held. Data providers support our data sharing and use policy but are under no obligation to share their data with you through us.
  • If the Data provider has requested that certain data or information is withheld. For example where data may be commercially sensitive, or where the data is under preparation prior to publication. The restriction may be permanent or temporary depending on the restrictions agreed with the Data Provider.
  • If the data contains personal information. Information within SBIS is managed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998. Personal information may be removed from the data resources that we make available.

SBIS holds datasets provided by a variety of public and private bodies, and individual researchers. Data providers retain the copyright of the original data or images at all times. Data providers have given SBIS their permission to hold a copy of their data within the archive. All our data holdings are made available for use under the SBIS Terms and Conditions. The Terms and Conditions are important and protect the copyright of our data providers. Users are permitted to use the data holdings that we make available on-line for their own private use or for use in the ordinary course of your business, provided that such use is in accordance with our Terms and Conditions.


Users of data for commercial purposes will be subject to charges