Event organisers were motivated by the shared ambitions of engaging visitors with the natural world, and furthering our collective understanding of UK biodiversity. Linking professional scientists with amateur naturalists and the wider public was another common goal. A number of events around the UK decided to work together in a peer-to-peer support network in order to share ideas, and in some case resources.
Each BioBlitz recruited visitors, participating amateur and academic naturalists, and data collectors separately through their own networks. The Bristol Natural History Consortium conducted a small national campaign in partnership with NERC to try to generally raise the profile of the project among NERC funded scientists; and conducted centralized volunteer recruitment through the BioBlitz UK website. BioBlitz organisers across the UK employed a wide means of advertising for their events, including marketing materials (flyers, postcards and banners) and local, regional and national campaigns.
Summary of activity:
The project involved 37 key organisations who ran BioBlitz events in different locations across the UK. These organisations included natural history societies, environmental organisations, universities, museums, and charities. Each key organisation then worked with another 1-10+ other partners in order to deliver their BioBlitz event.
The 37 BioBlitz events that took place in the UK across 2010 (International Year of Biodiversity) were all separately funded, managed, branded, and “creatively controlled”. All but three events ran for the first time in 2010, and most were supported in some way (including light touch phone mentoring, funding, on-site or direct involvement) by either the Bristol Natural History Consortium or the Natural History Museum. The Natural History Museum, through the OPAL project, created and revised a “how-to” guide, which was used by BioBlitz events as a type of manual. The Bristol Natural History Consortium employed a project manager for 1 year (60% FTE) who had a variety of functions. The first was to create and maintain a website to promote BioBlitz events across the year, to run a Twitter account and Facebook profile page. The Bristol Natural History Consortium also received funding to run four funded projects alongside the series of events taking place during the year (including the website) – these support mechanisms were employed by some, but not all, BioBlitz events.
The events that took place ranged from 3 hours to 30 hours, across a range of times of day.
A number of organisations conducted individual evaluations which can be found online (e.g. http://www.opalexplorenature.org/BioBlitzes). These typically involved questionnaires and conversations with event participants, both during and after the event.
What went well:
Momentum – general knowledge of the programme and organic growth. Working directly with universities and being able to employ small amounts of funding to encourage activity. Timing the initiative to build on the wider awareness raising activities and publicity associated with IYB 2010.
What was learned:
The project demonstrated the power of a centralised brand or initiative – many organisations ran BioBlitzes to celebrate International Year of Biodiversity. There were a number of lessons that were learned throughout the project, particularly on the arrangements of the informal partnership, and
Top tips and advice for others
Think through issues around unexpected growth in advance, communicate clearly and manage the expectations of those involved. Work as a partnership to maximise the strengths available within the resultant network