West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre

Founded in 2006, we are one of four Local Environmental Records Centres which together serve as a biodiversity data storage and management facility for the whole of Wales. Each LERC acts as a regional node in the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) and is defined as:

a not-for profit service run in partnership for the public benefit, which collects, collates, manages and disseminates information of known quality relating to the wildlife, wildlife sites and habitats for a defined geographic area.

West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre

WWBIC office just outside Whitland

WWBIC covers biological recording activity in an area of some 5650km2. This includes the Vice Counties of Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire excluding the small Eastern sector of the county that falls within the Brecon Beacons National Park – this area is handled by our neighbouring LERC, BIS (which covers the Brecon Beacons and Powys).

The establishment of the Records Centre has been supported by NRW and other major users of the database including Welsh Government Sponsored Bodies and Local Planning Authorities. These funding partners need the biological data in order to fulfil their statutory requirements – they must ‘have regard’ for biodiversity conservation while carrying out their planning and land management activities.

WWBIC does not ‘own’ its data holdings but has permission from the data owners to use them responsibly. We make appropriate charges for collating and formatting datasets and servicing data requests.

Each Vice County serves as an operating ground for biological recorders, one of whom is appointed as ‘County Recorder’ for a particular taxon group. The role of the County Recorder is to vet incoming records.

WWBIC works closely with these County Recorders in order to maintain standards of data quality. WWBIC plays an active role in supporting the biological recording community with forums, technical help, data analysis and mapping.

In addition to species records which are held as point data in geographic information systems (GIS), WWBIC holds extensive data on statutory and locally designated sites and on habitats – all of which are stored as polygon data in the GIS.

WWBIC has an extensive suite of GIS software and computer hardware with a data back-up system for security. The biodiversity data are thus handled in a very specialised facility, and a huge amount of information is made readily searchable and available.

The core service of a LERC is to provide reports of protected species, habitats and sites for a given location.

Much of the working hours of an LERC are spent reporting on planning applications, on future large scale developments, and on engineering maintenance sites to ensure that allowed activities do not impact illegally or unnecessarily on vulnerable wildlife.

With their extensive GIS capabilities, LERCs can also offer enhanced services including data management for third parties and analyses. WWBIC for instance has: helped provide summary information on wildlife attractions for sustainable tourism; managed recreational data for the Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum; and mapped suitable habitat for species.

As of 2015, we have been working with the three other LERCs in Wales as a consortium, first national network of LERCs in the UK, known as Local Environmental Records Centres Wales, which aims to provide seamless biodiversity information to the whole of Wales. South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre (SEWBReC) operates in the South, North Wales Environmental Information Service (Cofnod) in the North and Biodiversity Information Service for Powys & Brecon Beacons National Park (BIS) covers Mid Wales. The LERCs work closely together and have a Shared Vision.

If you have records to submit please send them to our Senior Data Manager, Kate Smith, by email: kate@wwbic.org.uk or by post: WWBIC, Landsker Business Centre, Llwynybrain, Whitland, Carmarthenshire SA34 0NG or phone: 01994 241468.