Data on sensitive species

The BTO is committed to making its data and information widely available for conservation management, site safeguard, species protection, planning advice and a range of issues concerned with environmental policy and ecological science. The ways that we do this are outlined in our policy on data and information. These notes address some particular issues concerned with records of sensitive species

Approach to managing data on sensitive species

The Trust holds many data on the locations of rare and sensitive species. It will seek to ensure that this information is made available to those in the Statutory and Voluntary Conservation organizations who need such data to ensure that species and sites are adequately protected. It will also ensure that adequate confidentiality of such data is maintained, and that they are not released in ways that could jeopardize individual birds or sites. We will work through the Rare Breeding Birds Panel to further develop and apply best practice in this area.

Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations

For projects such as Bird Atlas 2007-11 and BirdTrack, which are not funded by government, the data held by BTO and its partners do not fall under the Freedom of Information Act or the Environmental Information Regulations. Where the collection of data held by the BTO has been funded by government or other public bodies then the material may fall within the scope of this legislation. However, there is an exemption that allows data to be withheld if their release would be detrimental to the environment, as in the case of publicising the breeding locations of rare species. Decisions are made on a case by case basis by the government agency concerned. There have been very few requests for data held by the BTO under this legislation and none where locations of sensitive species have been released. The Trust works closely with partner organizations to ensure that such sensitive information continues to be adequately safeguarded.