Roger Parsons, voluntary Editor of the Bulletin, recalls its history from the early, pioneering days of the Internet.
In the mid-1990’s the LNU set out to improve the flow of biological information to county recorders using modern communication technology. We wanted to find a way to encourage people to take an interest in taxonomy and the identification and recording of local species, building the skills and the lifetime’s interest that future County Recorders are likely to need. The “Wild News Bulletin” started.
We hoped to set the scene for a minor revolution in local biological recording. I think we spoke in terms of maybe 50 people contributing to recording in this way. I am reminded of Thomas J. Watson – Head of IBM – 1945, who said: “I think there is a world market for maybe five Computers”!
Numbers of subscribers have grown steadily at between 50 and 100 a year, and by December 2014 we had a readership of over 1,000. Readers have a interest in news of recent sightings and an additional interest in gathering biological data to increase our understanding of Lincolnshire’s natural history.
When we started, only one or two recorders received the LNU Bulletin by e-mail. Now I estimate 20-25 Recorders receive records in this way. We have sowed the seed of Recording in the minds and computers of over 1,000 subscribers, some highly skilled professionals, others just at the start of their interest in natural history. All that is asked of them is that they contribute to the Bulletin over the course of a year, with a question, item of news or a wildlife report. In return they become part of a network of naturalists, who share news of events, participate in research, provide publicity for any local wildlife organisation that asks us to do so.
Although readers join as individuals, their networks bring the Bulletin into contact with Universities, museums, national organisations like Defra, Natural England, the Environment Agency, the BBC, and local organisations including Lincolnshire Bird Club, Badger and Bat Groups, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, Sir Joseph Banks Society, Greater Lincolnshire Nature Partnership, Lincolnshire Environmental Records Centre and local Wildlife Officers of Lincolnshire Police. Several independent ecological consultants receive and contribute to the Bulletin. We try as far as possible to adopt an inclusive editorial style, where we share information and views in our common endeavour to enjoy and contribute to the understanding of Lincolnshire’s wildlife.
The Bulletin is publicised through the Lincolnshire Naturalists’ Union, which oversees the Bulletin. However, the main route by which people learn of the Bulletin is by word of mouth, indeed we have made something of a virtue of the samizdat nature of the Bulletin, a bit of an ‘underground’ feel to it perhaps?