Biodiversity monitoring and reporting schemes

Adults examing plants in tall grass by a car park

If you enjoy taking an interest in your local wildlife, why not contribute your observations to one of the many UK monitoring schemes?

Your results will help organisations understand how populations of plants and animals are faring throughout the UK, and help protect our biodiversity.

On this page we've listed a variety of schemes run by other organisations. Projects can vary by:

  • Whether they focus on reporting specific animals, or are more general.
  • Whether they run year round, are seasonal, or just for one specific day a year.
  • Time commitment. Some are happy with one-off observations, others ask you to survey a larger piece of land or repeat your observations at different times.
  • Identification expertise. Most of the projects listed on this page require you to only have modest skills of species identification and provide you with guides, but some more specialist projects require you to have greater confidence.

The projects will ask you to enter your findings via their own website or app, or they may use the National Biodiversity Network's iRecord central recording database.

If you can't get outside, then there are a wide number of digital projects that require your help to examine data collected by others.

For the beginner

Insects and other invertebrates

  • Ladybird Survey: you can report all the ladybirds you see to this survey, including the harlequin ladybird, which arrived in Britain in 2004 and is the most invasive ladybird species on Earth. By taking part you can help to monitor its spread across Britain.
  • Garden Butterfly Survey: run by Butterfly Conservation, this is a great excuse to sit in your garden at least once a month on a sunny day and spot the butterflies that fly past, while contributing to critical research.
  • Stag Beetle Hunt: the stag beetle is a protected species in the UK, following its extinction in many European countries. Help find out if its numbers are stable in the UK by joining this project, run by the People's Trust for Endangered Species.
  • UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme: run by the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, examines which pollinators are active in different parts of the country and what flowers they are visiting. As a beginner you can start with a quick 10-minute count.
  • Bee-fly watch: promoted by the Dipterists Forum, this survey asks people to log any sightings of these distinctive furry flies. They can be seen from February - June.
  • Cellar Slug Hunt: for those who prefer tracking slower, slimier creatures, this project from the Royal Horticultural Society is attempting to assess whether the yellow cellar slug is displacing the green cellar slug.
  • Spider and Harvestman Recording Scheme: run by the British Arachnological Society, this scheme is not just for specialists, as you can also record some more easily identifiable spiders.

Birds

  • Big Garden Birdwatch: this annual RSPB survey is a great introduction to garden birds. It creates a snapshot of our garden visitors as well as tracking changes from year to year.
  • British Trust for Ornithology's Garden Birdwatch is the next step up from the Big Garden Birdwatch. This survey is carried out once a week, every week, so it builds a year-round picture of bird activity
  • BirdTrack: this online bird recording scheme collects sightings data from regular bird watchers, improving our understanding of bird migrations and populations in the UK.
  • Swifts: The population of UK swifts has halved in just 20 years. This scheme is asking you to look out for swifts in your local area and record where they are nesting.
  • Birds and debris: This project is tracking how plastic and other human debris such as glass, fabric and metal impacts the life of birds. If you've found a bird entagled in plastic or other debris, or used as part of a nest, you can report it on this site. Read more about the project in our article.

Plants

  • Plantlife’s Every Flower Counts: Flowers in our lawns help local pollinating insects. In this annual summer survey, run by Plantlife, you can assess the state of you lawn and receive tips on how to increase the number of flowers growing in it.
  • New Year Plant Hunt:: Run by the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland, this annual survey takes place at the start of January. Report and plants that you see in flower, and help us build up a clearer picture of how plants are responding to changes in weather patterns.
  • Ancient Tree Inventory: Help protect ancient trees by finding and mapping them across the UK. By creating a comprehensive database of ancient trees we can better cherish and care for them and the wildlife they support.

Amphibian and Reptiles

  • Amphibian and Reptile Surveys: the National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme runs a number of surveys. Seek out rare visitors to your local area, like the adder and great-crested newt, or spot more regular ones like the common frog.
  • DragonFinder app: Run by Froglife, this app allows you to identify reptiles and amphibians that you've seen, then report your findings.

Mammals

  • Big Hedgehog Map: It is thought that hedgehogs are declining across the UK. Record your sightings to help track the population and give us a better understanding as to what is happening to hedgehog populations.
  • Bat Surveys: Monitoring bats is essential as it would seem that many of our bat species have declined dramatically over the last 60 years. The National Bat Monitoring Programme surveys are carefully designed so that anybody can take part.
  • Mammal Mapper app: The app from the Mammal Society is easy to use and includes guides to help you identify the mammal and/or field signs, such as footprints and droppings.

For those with more time or experience

The following schemes require a greater commitment of time, or are suited to someone who is more confident in the species they are monitoring.

  • National Plant Monitoring Scheme: this a long-term project monitors changes to the wild flowers in our countryside.  Volunteers are allocated a local 1km square to survey for indicator species.
  • UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme: the more advanced level of this pollinator survey gives a volunteer a 1km plot to survey, whcih is visited four times a year.
  • Nature's Calendar: run by the Woodland Trust, this scheme focuses on phenology - how wildlife seasonal events, such as trees blossoming, change from year to year. You can choose to monitor just one event each year or you can monitor all sorts of plant and animal seasonal events.
  • Garden Moths Scheme: Volunteers count the numbers of common moths they see in a moth trap, for one night every week from March to November.
  • Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland: the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland website is great to explore, with lots of guidance on recording plant species. You can submit records of plants that you have found and they can help with identification.

Websites with extensive lists of monitoring schemes:

  • Biological Records Centre: The Biological Records Centre is a national focus in the UK for terrestrial and freshwater species recording. It has a large list of ongoing monitoring schemes including plants, fungi, vertebrates and many insect species.
  • Database of Wildlife Surveys and Recording Schemes: the National Biodiversity Network has a searchable database of over 150 schemes.