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Data management

Species data

SxBRC holds over 9 million species records for Sussex. These records have come from over 12,000 individual recorders and recording organisations and are the basis of the species records that appear in our Data Request Service reports. Each record has, as a minimum, details of what species or taxon was recorded, where it was found, when it was found and by whom it was recorded.

The species data cover all taxonomic groups across both East and West Sussex. Naturally, as a dataset, it has strengths and weaknesses, with some taxonomic groups or geographic areas being particularly well covered, and some not. The SxBRC works with many recording groups and individuals to try and remedy any “gaps” in the data, as well as validating the accuracy, and of course, keeping the data as up to date as possible.

Within the data-set a small amount of records are marked as confidential. This information is not given out with data requests unless we have the permission of the original recorder.

If you have a query about any of the records included in our reports, please get in touch with the SxBRC. If necessary, we can liaise with the original data supplier to obtain further details and, if there are issues with the data, we will do our best to ensure the master data-set is amended appropriately.

Data Custodianship

SxBRC has data-sharing agreements with many local wildlife recording groups and data-gathering organisations. Some groups and organisations, such as Sussex Ornithological Society, Butterfly Conservation – Sussex Branch, and Horsham District Council, maintain their own species databases. Where this is the case, SxBRC holds a copy of the records and custodianship of the master dataset remains with the data supplier.

In the case of Sussex Ornithological Society (SOS), records are received from a large number of sources including  BirdTrack managed by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO);  eBird managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York; national surveys organised by the BTO, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB); as well as from county nature reserves, dedicated bird watching groups and individual observers. Custodianship of datasets from online recording systems, national surveys and other groups remains with the original data suppliers. After records have been verified by the SOS’s recording team, and where sharing is permitted by the original data supplier, the county dataset is passed to SxBRC on an annual basis.

Other groups, such as the Sussex Dragonfly Group and the Sussex Mammal Group, have chosen to use iRecord as the central system for managing their county dataset. As with all sightings submitted to iRecord, the master dataset remains within the iRecord system, stored securely at the Biological Records Centre; SxBRC takes a copy of all verified records to include within its reporting.

Many biological recorders choose to share their sightings directly with SxBRC. In this situation, SxBRC maintains the ‘master copy’ of the dataset and facilitates data-sharing with local groups and national schemes and societies, as appropriate.

Data flow is a complex area and arrangements can change from year to year, as projects come and go, and IT systems change. We therefore haven’t attempted to include a comprehensive list of the groups and organisations which supply data to SxBRC, and all the data-sharing arrangements we have in place. But if you’d like to check whether records submitted to any particular group or organisation reach SxBRC, please ask.

Habitat data

In terms of habitat and land use data, SxBRC is migrating its suite of GIS layers into the recently launched Sussex Habitat Framework (SxHF). SxHF brings together habitat and land use data from a wide variety of different sources to produce a seamless dataset for the county, with polygon geometries based on Ordnance Survey MasterMap boundaries, and habitat/land use type classified using the Integrated Habitat System (IHS). The latter system is hierarchical, and can accept original survey data recorded at the level of broad habitats, Phase 1 categories, Section 41 habitats, or as National Vegetation Classification (NVC) communities, with priority at any geographic location being given to the highest quality dataset available. With the Habitat Framework now operational, our focus is on capturing additional high quality habitat datasets. Please send us your habitat data!


Statutory site designation information e.g. SSSIs and National Nature Reserves, is obtained from Natural England. Non-statutory site designations are managed in-house and include Local Wildlife Sites, Local Geological Sites and Notable Road Verges.

More information about these can be found in the SITES SECTION.