The S.B.I.S. 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 data 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.
It is an essential part of the vision not only to give users access to the data that already exist but to improve the quantity, quality and relevance of biodiversity data. Information needs to be up-to-date and trustworthy, as complete as possible, accurate and rapidly accessible. Where required it must be interpreted and evaluated so that users can judge what significance should be attached to it.
The Information Service is user led and is responsive to present and future requirements. It is based on a genuine partnership between the many user organisations and also between professionals and the strong voluntary recording community.
Biological recording in Suffolk has a long tradition. Today Suffolk has an eminent collection of expert naturalists who have collected hundreds of thousands of species records between them. These naturalists are very supportive of SBIS and are keen to work with the Service to develop recording activity in the county.
The benefits of easy access to high quality biodiversity data are many. Some organisations will be able to save a significant amount of staff time that is currently used in attempts to locate and collate existing data. Staff time can be re-deployed on actually putting the data to use. In the planning process access to relevant data at an early stage can frequently avoid unnecessary later problems and conflicts and can even save planning authorities the expense and trouble of a public inquiry.
Biodiversity resources are more likely to be conserved if quality data are available for all decisions made on land use and management. Increasing resources are now being devoted to positive management of sites and habitats, whether they are managed directly by partner organisations in areas such as Nature Reserves or Country Parks, or in the wider countryside through incentive schemes such as Woodland Grant Schemes or Environmental Stewardship. In this work biodiversity information can provide the basis of targeting of efforts to where they can be most effective.
Finally the need to monitor and report on the success or failure of policies is assuming an important role in most organisations.
Some of the benefits of the Information Service are summarised below:
- Improved policies and decision making
- Avoidance of unnecessary conflict and its costs
- Avoidance of unnecessary damage to biodiversity resources
- Effective targeting of scarce resources
- Economies by avoidance of duplication of effort
- Saving of staff time
- Access to everyone’s data
- Improved access to and context of an organisation’s own data
- More opportunities for proactive initiatives
- Improved staff motivation
- Benefits from voluntary expertise through linkage to professionals
- Compliance with statutory and reporting requirements