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The Bird Observatories Council

Accredited status

Accreditation is controlled by an agreement between the Bird Observatories Council (BOC) and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). An observatory must be operating to the standards outlined below to achieve accredited status:


1 Function of Accredited Bird Observatories

1.1 The Observatory must define a recording area which must be notified to the Trust. Any changes in the boundaries of this study area must also be notified.


1.2 Reasonable coverage (records for a minimum of 75% of days) of the study area must be maintained during the migration seasons. Records for other times, particularly the breeding season, should be maintained where possible.


1.3 The Observatories shall participate in such co-operative programmes of research as shall be agreed between the BOC and the Trust.


1.4 The Observatory will maintain a daily census and migration log, ensuring that a secure copy is kept off site. These data will be computerised and submitted to the Trust electronically. They will also co-operate with the Trust by submitting other data requested by the Trust which they may reasonably be expected to supply within a given time-span. The Trust will maintain a national archive of computerised data.


1.5 The Observatory will maintain a programme of bird ringing within their recording area. They will submit data from this ringing programme to the Trust as required under the rules of the Trust's Ringing Scheme. They will also use their best endeavours to supply additional ringing data, which may be requested by the Trust after consultation with the BOC, for specific projects.


1.6 The Observatory will use its best endeavours to provide training for visiting ringers and trainee ringers, subject always to the availability of suitably qualified ringing permit holders.


2 Facilities and administration of Accredited Bird Observatories

2.1 Each Observatory should have an organising committee or responsible individual for ensuring that the Observatory's obligations under this agreement are observed. Throughout this agreement where the Observatory Committee is referred to it should be noted that this may exceptionally be a single individual.


2.2 The Observatory Committee must, via the BOC secretary, inform the Trust of changes in the appointment of staff and in the Committee or responsible individual referred to in 2.1.


2.3 A distinction will be drawn between Accredited Wardened Observatories and Accredited Observatories and the status of each Observatory in this respect will be indicated in all publicity documents produced by the Trust or the BOC.


2.4 Observatories will provide catching and ringing facilities for visiting ringers and ringing trainees helping to man the observatory, for use by prior arrangement and at the sole discretion of the Warden or ringer in charge.


2.5 Observatories will provide or arrange overnight accommodation with board and/or cooking facilities at an appropriate charge.


3 Procedure to become an Accredited Observatory

3.1 Reasonable cover must have been maintained at a prospective Observatory site for two or more consecutive years immediately prior to the application, with a prospect of continuing activity.


3.2 The prospective Observatory must be able to show that they are able to fulfil the obligations of an Observatory as outlined in this agreement.


3.3 Accreditation shall require the agreement of both the Trust and the BOC. Accreditation shall formally be given by the BOC.


4 Termination of Accredited Observatory status

4.1 Any accredited Observatory which ceases to be able to fulfil the obligations of an Observatory as outlined in this agreement may cease to be an Accredited Observatory by giving notice in writing to both the BOC and the Trust.


4.2 Any Accredited Observatory which fails to meet criteria laid down by the BOC or fails to meet standards and codes of practice required by the Trust's Ringing Scheme shall be liable to forfeit accredited status subject to consultation with the Trust, BOC and the Observatory concerned.


5 Maintenance of and access to data

5.1 Accredited Observatories shall keep records of their daily census and migration logs, of their ringing data and of other information which they may collect. These records will be kept in good order and secure against accidental loss.  All records which the Observatory has gathered shall be kept permanently.


5.2 All observatories seeking accreditation after 1st January 2001 will be required to record daily census and ringing data in computerised form.


5.3 The Trust shall keep copies of the data supplied by the Observatories. These copies will be kept secure against accidental loss or damage.


5.4 Individual Observatories may use and publish the data they have gathered without consultation with other bodies. They are strongly encouraged to make maximum use of their data.


5.5 Bird Observatory data will normally be made available to bona fide research workers subject to the appropriate consultation and to the normal conditions for data requests operated by the Trust. Requests for data from a single Observatory will be referred to that Observatory.  Applications for data from more than one Observatory will be referred to the secretary of the BOC who will consult the Observatories concerned. The Observatories concerned will be given two months to respond to the request after which the data will be released if no reply has been received.


5.6 The Trust may use the information supplied by the Observatories for research purposes. It will inform the BOC and the relevant Observatories of the uses to which the data are put. Analyses based on the data from a single Observatory will not be performed without consultation with that Observatory.

5.7 Any publication using Observatory data shall acknowledge the Observatories and the Trust as having contributed to the data collection. Where the Trust's contribution has been supported by outside funding (for example the Joint Nature Conservation Committee's support for the Ringing Scheme) then the appropriate external sponsor(s) shall also be acknowledged.


5.8 Ringing data gathered as part of the activities of the BTO Ringing Scheme are subject to the rules and procedures operated by the Ringing Scheme and are not covered by this agreement.


6 Privileges provided to Accredited Bird Observatories by the Trust

6.1 Each Accredited Observatory will be provided with one free copy of Bird Study, BTO News, Ringers' Bulletin and Ringing and Migration.


6.2 Accredited Observatories shall be provided with one free ringing permit per year.


6.3 Accredited Observatories will be provided with free supplies of appropriate recording forms (but not binders) on request.


6.4 The Ringing Committee of the Trust may exempt Bird Observatories from certain restrictions on the ringing of particular species.


7 Liaison between the BOC and the Trust

7.1 The Trust will appoint a member of staff who will be responsible for routine liaison with the Bird Observatories and with the BOC. They will advise the BOC if this staff member is changed.


7.2 The Trust will appoint a representative who will attend BOC meetings. They will advise the BOC if this representative is changed.


7.3 The BOC will appoint a secretary who will be responsible for routine liaison with the Trust and will advise the Trust when a new secretary is appointed.


7.4 Where Trust Committees concerned with science or ringing (currently the Ringing Committee) are discussing matters which are of direct relevance to the work of the Observatories the Chairperson of the BOC will usually be invited to attend the meeting. Such attendances shall be at the discretion of the relevant Trust Committee. The Chairperson of the BOC may also receive relevant Trust papers so as to ensure that they are fully informed regarding relevant Trust activities.


7.5 Copies of this agreement will be provided to all new members of the BOC and the Ringing Committee of the Trust.


8 Publicity

8.1 The Trust will provide free publicity for the Bird Observatories by publishing a list of Accredited Bird Observatories, as supplied by the BOC, in the BTO News each year and by providing an information sheet for casual enquiries and through other opportunities when they arise.


8.2 The Observatories will publicise the Trust by making Trust membership leaflets and other information available to their visitors. The Trust will arrange for such material to be supplied to the Bird Observatories.


9 Revision of this Agreement

9.1 A revised version of this agreement may be produced at any time by mutual agreement between the Trust and the BOC. When such a revised agreement has been signed by both parties it shall replace the present agreement.


9.2 Either party may give written notice of not less than six months that they intend to withdraw from this agreement. On expiry of such notice the agreement shall be deemed to have terminated.