London Natural History Society The place for wildlife in London

London Natural History Society - The place for wildlife in London

LNHS Recorders

A full list of the LNHS recorders for different taxonomic groups (or geographic areas for birds) can be found on the Who We Are page and contact details can be found on the Contact Us page.

Today, biological records are usually stored in digital form in databases. These databases can be accessed and shared for use in conservation, research and planning. One such use is in the compilation of distribution atlases, and in the case of botanical records producing a flora. Work is currently underway to generate new records and gather existing records to create a new London Flora - and the London Natural History Society (LNHS) are now looking at how we can unlock past plant records from publications and convert them into digital records.

London Naturalist 1933The London Naturalist is the journal of the LNHS and contains articles covering a wide range of natural history subjects. This publication has been produced annually since 1921 and its predecessors date back all the way to 1898! Within them is a treasure trove of information, including many botanical biological records that would be of great value to the London Flora Project.

These records are important as they provide snapshots from days gone by and allows us to compare the current distribution of a plant species with past occurences - allowing us to see if plant distributions have contracted, stayed the same or expanded.

The LNHS is now looking for volunteers that are able to help us search through our archives and mine these invaluable records, opening them up for the London Flora Project and other uses. All records will also be shared with both Greenspace Information for Greater London (GIGL) and the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI).

How to get involved

This project is managed by LNHS Vascular Plant Recorder and BSBI Middlesex Recorder, Mark Spencer. In order to take part in this record mining project of historic records, you need to register your interest with the LNHS Vascular Plant Recorder by email and wait to be assigned specific issues of the London Naturalist (which will be accessed online via the Biodiversity Heritage Library). 

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We hosted a 'Plants of London's Past Volunteer Training Workshop' on 17th February 2021 and recorded the session (see below). We advise anyone that would like to take part in this project to first watch this video and then contact the LNHS Vascualr Plant Recorder via the link above.


Check out the GiGLer  for A Sense of Place: The history of the geographical information in the London Natural History Society records

What is involved

In a nutshell, the project involves mining any botanical species occurrence records located within past issues of the London Naturalist and submitting these to the LNHS Vascular Plant Recorder in an Excel spreadsheet (or Tab-Delimited Text file).

Volunteers will be asked to record the following information for any biological records that they come across (please note that detailed instructions for recording each of these fields will be provided to volunteers when they are assigned publications):

  • Adders Tongue LN 1933Taxon - the full scientific name of the species recorded
  • Site - the name of the site where the species was recorded
  • Grid reference - the OS grid reference of the site
  • Vice county - the vice county reference number
  • Recorder - the name of individual(s) that made the observation/collected the specimen
  • Determiner - the name of the individual(s) that the identified the species
  • Date - the date on which the plant was recorded
  • Quantity - the number of individuals recorded
  • Method - the method of recording (usually "field record/observation)
  • Sex - the sex of the recorded plant
  • Stage - the life stage of the recorded plant
  • Status - the status of the recorded plant (i.e. native, non-native, planted, unknown, not recorded)
  • Comment - any additional information, including comments on the perceived accuracy of the record

Hopefully, having followed the guidance provided by the LNHS Vascular Plant Recorder, the data should look something like this:

Plant Record

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Click here to download the Plants of London's Past Volunteer Instructions


Author: Keiron Derek Brown

Date published: 23/01/2021