The NBN Atlas shares data aggregated from multiple sources and made available online, allowing users to interrogate species records & download distribution maps
The NBN Trust promotes the sharing and use of biodiversity data, which is achieved through our digital data sharing infrastructure, the NBN Atlas. The previous infrastructure, the NBN Gateway, had limited functionality and was no longer fit for purpose. A replacement was needed to provide a stable platform for integration of species and ecosystem data with environmental data layers and an improved user interface. After reviewing the options the NBN Trust decided to adopt the Atlas of Living Australia infrastructure as it provided much of the required functionality. The core functionality of the NBN Atlas includes:
• the ability to display species and ecosystem data together
• interoperability with spatial and environmental layers
• uploading data via webservices
• the ability to hold image libraries and bibliographies
• a powerful interactive mapping tool with multiple filters
• a spatial portal that allows detailed analysis and modelling of data.
The NBN Atlas was developed using the open source code developed by ALA which has multiple implementations delivering a range of products and services. The code has been adapted to include functionality required by the UK’s biodiversity sector and will continue to be adapted and upgraded in the future. The main stakeholders and beneficiaries are the data providers and data users including government agencies, wildlife and conservation NGOs, museums, academics, volunteer recorders, local environmental record centres and public

Resources needed

Implementing the ALA infrastructure with amendments cost £250,000, further development costs extra. Annual running costs are £125,000 per year. Servers to host the site and database are the largest cost. Staff resource required a systems developer, data manager, support officer and project manager.

Evidence of success

The NBN Atlas currently holds over 220 million species occurrence records and approx. 100 spatial layers. There are over 4000 registered users and an average of 500 users visit the site each day.

Difficulties encountered

While the NBN Atlas is based on the open source ALA infrastructure we have had to make significant amendments to adapt the site to a UK audience. This has led to some issues when implementing updates from ALA. Detailed documentation of source code and amendments are essential.

Potential for learning or transfer

Key success factors for transfer and learning include:
• The NBN Atlas revolutionises the use of UK biodiversity data, enabling it to be shared, analysed and researched
• The NBN Atlas is an online tool that educates and informs people about the natural world
• The NBN Atlas holds data on marine and terrestrial species
• The NBN Atlas allows users to interrogate species records and download distribution maps
• The NBN Atlas makes UK biodiversity data compatible with other countries’ biodiversity data, and allows users to compare and share data globally.

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Main institution
National Biodiversity Network (NBN)
Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom
Start Date
April 2015
End Date


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