National Nature Collections Information Project (#NatureData)
Developing an information system for UK natural science collections
Natural science collections provide taxonomic information as well as verifiable modern and primary historical data for species distributions, information essential in addressing nationally and globally important questions about climate change, invasive species, disease and vector control, human health, food security, etc. This makes collections a vital resource for informing policy decisions and addressing topics with significant economic and social implications for the nation.
A NERC response to a 2010 Taxonomy & Systematics Review identified that “a study should be undertaken to determine whether the distribution of the UK’s taxonomic collections is the most efficient for today’s needs”. It went on to state that “the [Taxonomy & Systematics] Committee will collate information on the current distribution, condition and curation of natural history collections and, in consultation with the organisations responsible for these collections and the user community, make a set of recommendations on how to achieve long term access to these resources. In addition to considering physical collections, this study will take into account the potential value of open, searchable collection databases and virtual collections.”
Further to the response from NERC, there has long been a need recognised for an up-to-date database of natural science collections in the UK for the use of researchers, educators and the public. Organisations like NatSCA, that have an interest in maintaining natural science collections in Britain and Ireland, also have need for a database of collections to facilitate our advocacy work. In order to address this need NatSCA and various partners (including the Linnean Society and the NHM) are undertaking a sector-wide project to develop an information system for natural science collections in the UK and Ireland, under the working title #NatureData.