The role of the British Trust for Ornithology is to promote and
encourage the wider understanding, appreciation and conservation of birds through
scientific studies using the combined skills and enthusiasm of its members, other
birdwatchers and staff. To this end, the BTO's 11,000 members and 80 staff carry out a
range of volunteer and professional surveys.
The BTO's Ringing Scheme is responsible
for ringing birds within the UK. The results from ringing and associated recoveries form
vital information on the movements and survival rates of British birds. They are
increasingly important for understanding the causes of mortality in Britain's birds. The
BTO in conjunction with The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Joint Nature Conservation
Committee (on behalf CCW, EN, SNH & EHS(NI)) and the Royal Society for the Protection
of Birds runs the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) to monitor waterfowl populations throughout
the UK through monthly counts. The BTO's role within this scheme is to organise low tide
counts of waterfowl on estuarine sites and to develop methods of issuing alerts for
exceptional population increases or decreases. Other major monitoring schemes run by BTO
are the BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey which covers 2,000 1-km squares within the UK.
The long-running Heronries Census and a range of surveys on other single species are in
operation. Most of these surveys involve large numbers of volunteers who are backed-up by
scientific staff at the Trust who ensure that scientifically rigorous data are collected.
In addition to survey work, the BTO
undertakes a range of contracts funded by conservation agencies, government and
developers. These projects fall into two categories:
(i) Assessing the effects of man's
activities on birds
Examples are the assessment of the effects of building
tidal power barrages on bird populations and the effects of the Cardiff Bay barrage on
(ii) Assessing the effects of birds on
Certain populations of birds are likely to have potential
negative impacts on man's activities such as the recent increase in Canada Geese in Great
Britain. The BTO has assessed the survival and population change of Canada Geese within
Great Britain as it has for fish-eating birds.
These independent studies ensure that conservation
decisions are made on the best available evidence as the BTO does not campaign on any
issues - it just provides the facts.
The long-term monitoring surveys and the
detailed special projects have resulted in the BTO holding extensive databanks on bird
distribution and population parameters. The BTO runs a data request service to supply
information to those people requiring information from any of our surveys for specific
sites where assessments of bird populations are required.
Further information may be obtained from either the Head
of Projects or the Contracts Co-ordinator