Participant information sheet

BTO questionnaire – learning about our volunteers

This Participant Information Sheet explains the procedure for taking part in the BTO questionnaire (June 2023). This will help you to understand why and how the survey is being carried out, and what participation will involve.

  • Please email the Data Protection team - [at] - if anything is unclear or if you have any questions.

1. Who is conducting the survey?

Representatives of BTO. The key contacts at BTO are Dawn Balmer, Dave Leech, Sian Knott, Graham Hatt and Andrew Scott. We are working with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) to learn more about the volunteers that take part in schemes under the BTO/JNCC Partnership, often operated in partnership with others including RSPB, NatureScot.

We are contacting all participants who have volunteered in at least one of the following schemes since 1 January 2022: BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey, BTO/JNCC/RSPB Waterways Breeding Bird Survey, BTO/RSPB/JNCC Wetland Bird Survey, BTO/JNCC Avian Demographic Scheme (ringing & nest recording), BTO/JNCC Seabird Monitoring Programme and the BTO/JNCC/NatureScot Goose and Swan Monitoring Programme.

2. Who is funding the survey?

This questionnaire survey is being funded by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and BTO, under the JNCC/BTO Partnership.

3. What is the purpose of the survey?

The aim of this questionnaire is to better understand who is getting involved in our schemes and improve our engagement with new audiences, helping to ensure sustainability of data collection and give as many people as possible the opportunity to interact with the natural world. This is part of the wider commitment of JNCC and BTO to encourage equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives among its volunteer networks and partnerships.

4. Do I have to take part?

No. Taking part is completely optional and deciding to not take part will not disadvantage you in any way.

5. What will happen if I take part?

Participating will entail completing an anonymous questionnaire survey that is accessed online via the generic survey link in the invitation email. Your data will then be combined with all other responses and a report written up.

6. Are there any risks in taking part?

There are no apparent risks to taking part in the survey that the research team can foresee.

7. What are the possible benefits of taking part?

There are no immediate direct benefits to you from taking part in this survey but  analysis of the results will help us to  inspire new people to take part in wildlife monitoring, to increase the value they experience when participating in schemes under the BTO/JNCC Partnership and to increase the chances they remain involved in future. It is hoped that this will bring benefits to both the natural world and the people who are giving their time to help protect it.

8. Will my taking part in this project be kept confidential?

Yes – the survey is designed to be anonymous. No personal data (names or email addresses) will be linked with any survey responses at any time. We request you avoid including information in the free text boxes that could identify any individual, including yourself.

Whilst theoretically it could be possible for someone to try to work out who a participant was from their unique combination of answers, we can reassure you that all questionnaire data will be handled with complete confidentiality.

9. What will happen to the information I provide?

The information you provide will be captured electronically by BTO. Only BTO staff working on this survey will have access to the data gathered. The data will be stored securely to support analysis. A summary  of the results will be made available to survey participants, and may be made publicly available, but we will ensure that any personally identifiable information is not included. BTO will store the raw questionnaire results for up to five years before deleting, and JNCC will receive a summary of the results for future research use.

10. Data Protection

BTO and JNCC (Data Controllers) have carried out a Data Protection Impact Assessment to ensure the careful management of processing personal data. We have designed the questionnaire to be anonymous, and the data that is collected will be stored securely.

Any personal data will be collected under the legal basis of ‘public task’. By completing the questionnaire you are consenting to this processing of your data and confirming that you are at least 16 years of age.

Please note: 

Due to the anonymous set up of the questionnaire we do not anticipate being able to identify individual responses, so you will not be able to modify your response after submission, and we are unable to delete your response if you wish to retract it.

Only BTO will use the name and email address you have provided when registering for schemes in order to contact you with a link to this survey and subsequent findings.

The BTO Privacy Policy is set out on our website:

If you have any concerns about how your personal data is being used please contact BTO’s Data Protection Officer in the first instance by email: [at]

You have the right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office. You also have the right to an effective judicial remedy against decisions of the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Thank you for taking the time to read this information sheet and contribute to the survey.

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