People engaged more with biodiversity during Covid-19 lockdown

‘People engaged more actively with nature during the Covid-19 lockdown’, is the picture that emerged from the network of volunteers that contribute biodiversity data to the National Biodiversity Data Centre. During the first six months of 2020, 5,277 recorders submitted over 97,000 records to the Data Centre through its Citizen Science Portal, which was an increase of more than 60% for the same period in 2019.  Recording started off slowly in January to March, but there was a huge spike in recording effort immediately following the Covid-19 lockdown in late March and this rate remains higher than for the comparable period in 2019. It is clear that in response to the Covid-19 restrictions people became more conscious of their surrounding and engaged more with biodiversity.

The Orange-Tip Butterfly was the most recorded species between January and June of this year with 1404 records. Pic – Oisín Duffy

Coinciding with the Covid-19 restriction, the Data Centre ran a very successful #SpeciesADay initiative where it highlighted a different, relatively common species each day and encouraged people to search for it in their locality, and if they were confident of identification, to submit the record to the Data Centre. This proved very successful with recorders as it provided a easy way for new people to begin recording the biodiversity in their locality, and to become familiar with species identification. #SpeciesADay ran for 166 days and profiled  over 130 different species. On average, record levels for species chosen, doubled on the day it was profiled! As a consequence of this initiative, and peoples renewed interest in biodiversity, we engaged with 4,555 new recorders who submitted 10 or less records to the system during the lockdown.

Hedgehog was the 2nd most recorded species between January and June of this year with 1268 records. Pic – Liam Lysaght

The data collected by these volunteers is of enormous value in better understanding Ireland’s biodiversity and how it is distributed in Ireland. Over this period, recorders submitted 14,844 sightings of Ireland’s protected species and 10,513 of Ireland’s rarer, threatened species. This includes species that are of highest conservation value, so this up to date information is really important to have. In addition, recorders submitted 2,218 records of some of Ireland’s worst invasive alien species, information which will feed into informing mitigation measures to tackle the worst impacts of these invaders.

Peacock was the 3rd most recorded species between January and June 2020 with 1184 records. Pic – Oisín Duffy

The National Biodiversity Data Centre has produced a county by county guide to show the recording efforts over the first six months of 2020. It presents a summary of the recording activity for each county, together with a breakdown of recording activity by taxonomic group and highlight which were the 10 most commonly recorded species. When validated, all these data will become freely available to increase our knowledge on biodiversity in each country, and to inform decision-making for conservation.

Click the graph below to be taken to the County Reports!

 

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on Irish society and has changed dramatically how we live our lives. The figures show that some people have found solace in biodiversity in this time of crisis, and appreciate more the value of having a healthy, diverse environment where they live.