Why do we record wildlife?

Recording wildlife has been a tradition in the UK since the 18th century and has led to in-depth knowledge about the plants and animals that we share our islands with.

We maintain a database of wildlife records from all the places in the National Trust for Scotland's care, and use this data to inform our conservation work. More recently, thanks to modern technology, we have also been able to share this data with the National Biodiversity Network Atlas, where it informs the work of the conservation community as a whole. The data can be used to guide land management, support government policy decisions, ask research questions, and educate both children and adults about the natural world and its importance to our environment, health and wellbeing.

Which species are recorded?

All wildlife sightings are valuable. Information about wildlife populations is always evolving, as new discoveries are made and our environment changes over time. It is difficult to keep up with the effects that human activities are having on the planet, therefore the more information we have about a species or a place, the easier we can spot changes when they occur.  

Often, it is the most common species that go under-recorded, but these can be the first to indicate where changes, good or bad, are happening. We encourage all our staff to record the wildlife they see whilst at work, whether they are on a mountain range managed specifically for nature conservation, or are in a city centre with a bird feeder next to the office window. 

Records are obtained from a wide range of sources including our own specially commissioned surveys, annual monitoring and one-off surveys carried out by our countryside rangers. We also record ad-hoc sightings from staff, volunteers and visitors.  

What does a species record consist of? 

In its simplest form, only 4 pieces of information are required to create a species record.

1. What – e.g. Robin or Erithacus rubecula
2. Where – e.g. The Georgian House or NT2465073936
3. When – e.g. December 2016 or 21/12/2016
4. Who – e.g. Mr Cornelius Smith

Other information can be provided if you have it (e.g. male bird feeding on earthworms). The more detail the better! 

It's easy. Why not start recording the wildlife you see today?

Where do the records go? 

We want our wildlife records to make a difference. That is why we are so passionate about sharing them with the wider conservation community.

All the data that we have permission to share is sent to the National Biodiversity Network (NBN), an amazing collaboration of organisations and individuals who realise the importance of making biodiversity data widely available to conservation organisations, researchers, ecological consultants, teachers, policy makers and individuals like you.

The records themselves are accessible from the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas. From here, anyone can view, download or interrogate our wildlife data, along with that of more than 100 other conservation organisations across the UK. 

Our records are also shared internationally on the Global Biodiversity Information Forum.


Did you see me today?

Big and prickly, or tiny and slimy - whatever you saw, we’d love to know!