Survey Force, which runs from approximately April to September, brings together volunteers with wide ranging species knowledge to survey Trust reserves. The data collected is primarily used to influence in-house management planning by providing a benchmark from which to determine how well a nature reserve is doing. It may also be used when responding to planning applications.
In each year, approximately 12 reserves are surveyed. The surveys can be focused on areas of particular importance, for example the condition of our grasslands and woodlands or more broadly, the species present (invertebrates, birds etc.). In addition to the group sessions, Survey Force also includes a number of individual volunteers who monitor reserves local to them. The data that they collect usually involves them making a number of visits to their respective reserve to monitor a specific species over a whole season. These surveys can be more specialist and necessitate an excellent understanding of what is being monitored; for example, breeding bird surveys, whereby the surveyor is required to differentiate between birds by listening to their calls and songs. This type of data allows us to monitor trends and populations.
Survey Force is hugely popular and a great way to learn about the natural world. Many surveyors begin with very little knowledge and find that the support that they receive enables them to gain a good understand of a variety of species. We also have the assistance of a number of local experts and county recorders who join our sessions or are on hand to help identify those really tricky specimens! Once back in the office, a small team of volunteers help with the huge task of inputting the data collected. All in all, a real team effort and one which is so important to the work of the Trust.