Personal meaning in the public sphere: The standardisation and rationalisation of biodiversity data in the UK and the Netherlands

Anna Lawrence, Esther Turnhout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Citations (Scopus)


The demand for biodiversity data is increasing. Governments require standardised, objective data to underpin planning and conservation decisions. These data are produced by large numbers of (volunteer) natural historians and non-governmental organisations. This article analyses the interface between the state and the volunteer naturalists to understand the emerging patterns of information flow between them. Our results are based on research in the UK and the Netherlands. These two countries have a long history in volunteer biodiversity recording and are facing similar issues in relation to the increasing demand for standardised data. Our findings demonstrate that citizens who become involved in recording do so because they value nature and biodiversity. Recording is for them a way to enact their relationship with nature and contribute to its protection. Our findings also show that they are concerned about the increasing rationalisation in the process of data flow and about the way in which the government treats them and 'their' data. Our paper concludes by discussing this tension and the challenges and opportunities for biodiversity recording.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-360
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2010



  • Amateur naturalists
  • Biodiversity data
  • Biodiversity recording
  • Commoditisation
  • Information
  • Nature conservation policy
  • Standardisation
  • Volunteering

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