BTO and COVID-19

BTO and COVID-19

17 Jan 2022

BBS volunteer. Photograph by David Tipling

This statement was updated at 09:00 on 17.01.2022.

Volunteers can currently undertake surveys in most/all parts of the UK so long as they are careful to follow relevant guidance.

The spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has had a significant impact on our lives, and on the monitoring and survey work to which we contribute. It is likely to continue to have an impact on our activities for some time. BTO continues to take the threat seriously, with utmost concern for the health and well-being of our staff, volunteers and members, and those landowners and communities with which we interact.

It is vital that our staff, volunteers and members continue to follow the latest government advice in order to prevent the spread and transmission of infection. The monitoring work undertaken by BTO staff and volunteers makes a valuable contribution to society and to their own mental well-being, but these are exceptional times and the government advice provides the framework by which we should direct our activities. People across society are having to make sacrifices, and it is important that we, as volunteers, continue to do our bit by following government advice and supporting the efforts to bring an end to this pandemic. 

The health of yourselves and your families and friends is important. If you or those close to you are impacted by the virus, we wish you a swift recovery. You should not feel that you have to carry out surveys this year if you have any concerns about the health and safety of yourself or other people.

BTO offices and working arrangements

We have put steps in place to minimise disruption to our work and core charitable activities and have produced a risk assessment (PDF 823kb) for our offices. Please note that most of our staff are still working from home, but can be contacted by email or through our website. We have put in place mechanisms to enable people to contact the BTO over the telephone and our online sales operation remains open.

Participating in BTO surveys

BTO’s senior leadership team continues to review published legislation, government guidance and other relevant advice for England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, Channel Islands and Republic of Ireland. We also continue to consult with JNCC, the relevant Statutory Agencies or responsible bodies, and NGO partners about the implications for our volunteer surveys. 

It is vital to understand that the guidance presented here represents the latest interpretation of the legislation received by BTO from the relevant government departments. For your own benefit, in terms of disease transmission  we urge volunteers to carefully assess the risks posed by their fieldwork. Given the potential risk of the spread of new variants, guidelines could quickly change again and there is likely to be greater onus on individuals to be responsible for minimising risk to themselves and others.

Our current position, as of 17 January 2022,  is as follows:

You may take part in surveys, provided you follow any current government restrictions and guidance for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Jersey, Bailiwick of Guernsey as appropriate, and our survey-specific guidance below.

Survey work and coronavirus

No volunteer should undertake survey work if displaying symptoms of Covid-19. If volunteering is undertaken, volunteers should follow all government guidance in their geographic region, and appropriate health and safety procedures at all times. 

The health of our volunteers is very important to us, as are our relationships with the landowners who so generously allow us onto their land. No volunteer should feel under pressure to carry out fieldwork if they do not feel comfortable doing so, or if they are concerned about the impacts of carrying out survey work on relations with landowners or other members of the public. Please be sensitive to the feelings of landowners and your impact on local communities at this time and help foster good relationships with local communities for the future. Inconsiderate actions will be damaging for all of us. As with all fieldwork, please ensure that you have appropriate landowner permission to visit.

Useful links

England: /



Northern Ireland:

Republic of Ireland:

Isle of Man:

Bailiwick of Jersey:

Bailiwick of Guernsey:

The BTO Team

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