All About BIS?
BIS was the first Local Record Centre in Wales and was established in 2000 covering the counties of Breconshire, Radnorshire and Montgomeryshire. It was one of 3 pilot record centres in the UK, (the others being in Cheshire and Northeast Scotland), funded by the partners and the Esmee Fairburn Trust through Wildlife Trusts UK. These pilot record centres were set up as 'nodes of the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) and would adopt the standards of NBN' (Linking LERC’s Project). The BIS Memorandum of Agreement was signed by the founding members in 2000 and in 2001 the 3 staff started populating the species and habitat databases. BIS is celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2021.
The Biodiversity Information Service provides a mechanism for collating, sharing and utilising the wealth of biological data and knowledge, which exists in this part of Wales. The aim of BIS is to make information on wildlife, their habitats and important sites, readily available to those who need it. This will ensure that decisions, which may affect the natural heritage in the Powys and Brecon Beacons National Park area, are made with the best available knowledge.
BIS was set up as a 'Private Company Limited by Guarantee Without Share Capital' and is therefore a 'not for profit' organisation. It is funded by Service level Agreements with its partners and by providing a professional commercial service to other environmental organisations and consultants.
BIS is now part of the first national network of LERCs in the UK, known as Local Environmental Records Centres Wales, which aims to provide seamless biodiversity information to the whole of Wales. South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre (SEWBReC) was established in 2004. North Wales Environmental Information Service (Cofnod) has been providing services since 2007 and finally the network was completed in autumn 2007 when West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre (WWBIC) went 'live'. The LERCs work closely together and have a Shared Vision.
Data We Hold(Top)
BIS brings together a wide range of biodiversity, habitat and geodiversity data supplied by organisations, groups and individuals. This includes -
- Over 2.7 million species records – this database is continually growing. A breakdown of the species records we hold can be seen here
- All local conservation sites such as SINC’s, LWS and Wildlife Trust nature reserves
- All statutory designated sites such as SSSI’s, SPA’s, SAC’s and RIGG’s
- Complete Phase 1 habitat mapping for our area
BIS holds these datasets with permission from the data owners and makes them available to partners, local recorders, environmental consultants and the public via an online portal called Aderyn.
In the past wildlife information was held by a large number of organisations and individuals in various formats, including paper recording cards, and so was not readily accessible. Since 2001 BIS has collated and electronically stored over 2.7 million species records (January 2021) and this information is now readily available to its partners, local recorders, commercial environmental consultants and the public. The wildlife records are stored electronically in a Recorder 6 database, the JNCC industry standard database application. Spatial datasets including habitat and local and designated site information are held in ArcMap Geographic Information System format.
Bringing all this information into one system enables clear presentation of the data for all our users and also facilitates its analysis and manipulation. We aim to provide a rapid and comprehensive response which enables biodiversity to be taken into account for development, operations and nature conservation. For more information on how BIS uses the data see Manager Annual Report to Members and BIS Products and Services.
The information on habitats and species comes from many sources such as the former Countryside Council for Wales (Natural Resources Wales), Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, and the Wildlife Trusts. In particular, we would like to thank members of the local voluntary recording community who have provided over 50% of our records (January 2021). The specialist, county recorders not only co-ordinate the collection of records of their particular interest but also authenticate their identification. Without their input and advice an LERC such as BIS cannot operate. One role of BIS, therefore, is to provide a support network for local recorders to ensure that their efforts are valued and that resources such as software and IT support are made freely available.
See our Data Holdings page for more information on records BIS holds.
BIS Organisation & Operations(Top)
BIS is an independent ‘not-for-profit’ company, providing services to its Partners, in accordance with Service Level Agreements and also providing professional commercial services to other environmental organisations and consultants.
The membership delegates the management of the company to the Board of Directors (see below).
The roles of the Directors are detailed in the company’s Memorandum and Articles of Association but are summarised in the BIS Organisational Table, along with those of the Support Group (see below) and the BIS Manager (see below).
A visual representation of the overall internal and external BIS relationships is shown in the BIS Organisational Diagram.
Operational planning is undertaken with reference to our Annual Work Plan and Annual Budget Plan.
Bradley Welch - Manager (Company Secretary)
Bradley came to BIS in 2020 from the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority where he worked for 9 years as the Senior Ecologist and Climate Adaptation Officer and 4 years as the National Park Management Plan Officer. He worked closely with the Black Mountains Land Use Partnership, and his team also implemented a number of other partnership projects across the Park designed to facilitate nature recovery. He has served on the BIS Support Group since 2011. In a previous life, Brad worked at a national level with 270 of the US National Parks, helping them devise consistent methodologies for the inventory and monitoring of invasive species. He has also developed a strong understanding of environmental education, communication and partnership working through both his past and present work.
Bradley works 5 days per week and is the key contact for project work as well as current and potential partner services.
Jo Milborrow - Senior Biodiversity Data Officer
Jo studied Marine Biology at the University of Wales Swansea followed by a course in Countryside Management. After gaining wildlife conservation experience with various NGO’s and local authorities she worked for the Wildlife Trust South and West Wales as the Warden on Skomer and Skokholm Islands for six years. After returning to mainland life she moved to Yorkshire to work as an Ornithologist with Fera/AHVLA where she carried out avian research and consultancy work throughout the UK and Europe for four years. Following this she worked for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust for three years where she managed a suite of nature reserves and ran practical volunteer tasks. Jo moved back to Wales in early 2018 to begin work at BIS along with studying for an MSc in Biological Recording with Manchester Metropolitan University.
Jo works 5 days a week and is the key contact for all standard commercial and partner biodiversity information enquiries, including Local Authority planning application reporting. Leading contact for data exchange with local recorders and other data providers.
Ben Mullen - Biodiversity Communications Officer
Ben joined BIS in 2017 to promote and support the wildlife recording community in the BIS area. He promotes the work of our local recorders and creates new opportunities for people to get involved in biological recording. Ben organises events, training sessions and informative talks to promote wildlife and the identification and recording of it. He edits the twice-yearly Recorders Newsletter and promotes the work of BIS and the recorders on social media, the BIS website and in the regular BIS Bulletin. with over 15 years of experience working with volunteers and promoting activities in the conservation sector, a Marsh fritillary habitat restoration project in the Upper Tawe Valley brought him to Wales in 2011. After a spell at the National Trust and the burial ground conservation charity, Caring for God’s Acre (CfGA), Ben joined BIS in 2017, a role he initially combined with CfGA before becoming full time at BIS in 2018.
Ben works 5 days a week and is the key contact for events, recording, training courses, publicity and social media.
Berwyn Powell - IT Officer
Berwyn joined BIS in 2021 to manage the website and computer systems. He maintains the website code and, hopefully, keeps the company's systems running smoothly. Previously he worked as a developer specializing in performance and accessibility, and is actively involved in the movement to reduce the web's carbon emissions. For four years he served as the company secretary for Spring Greens Fair, a community benefit society that ran a family-friendly local energy and environment fair in the Welsh marches.
Berwyn works 2 days a week, usually Monday and Tuesday, and is the key contact for technical problems on the website.
BIS Board of Directors(Top)
- Norman Lowe - Chairman
- Keith Noble - Vice Chairman
- John Wilson, Treasurer
- Bradley Welch (BIS), Non-Director, Company Secretary
- Sue Furber
- Bob Dennison
- Hazel Drewett
- Sarah Kessel (Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales)
- Cllr Andrew James (Brecon Beacons National Park Authority)
- Andrew Lucas - (Natural Resources Wales Observer)
- Alastair Knox - (Powys County Council Observer)
- James Hitchcock (Radnorshire Wildlife Trust Member)
- Clive Faulkner (Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust Member)
BIS Support Group(Top)
- Ken Perry (Natural Resources Wales) - Chairman
- Bridgett Schofield / Rebecca Price (BBNPA)
- Steph Coates (Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, Brecknock)
- Tammy Stretton (Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust)
- Darylle Hardy (Radnorshire Wildlife Trust)
- Emma Guy (Powys County Council)
- Natural Resources Wales
- Powys County Council
- Brecon Beacons National Park Authority
- Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, Brecknock
- Radnorshire Wildlife Trust
- Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust
BIS receives financial support from the following partners;
- Welsh Government
- Natural Resources Wales
- Powys County Council
- Brecon Beacons National Park Authority
- South, North & Mid-Wales Trunk Road Agency
- Dwr Cymru Welsh Water
- Network Rail