In this section:


County Recorders are critical gatekeepers in the data flow from recorder to the schemes that we manage at Butterfly Conservation. Only data checked by you makes it into the two key databases that we collate and manage: the Butterflies for the New Millennium (BNM) and the National Moth Recording Scheme (NMRS). See the role profiles below. You are the local data collators and managers, and you provide support and encouragement to thousands of recorders across the UK. Without the voluntary work that you provide Butterfly Conservation and others wouldn’t have the robust evidence base we need for understanding and conserving butterflies, moths and their habitats.

What do County Recorder volunteers do for Butterfly Conservation?

The records submitted by thousands of butterfly and moth recorders across the UK are collated and verified by the network of County Butterfly and County Moth Recorders and their Verification Assistants.

The verified datasets of records underpin all of Butterfly Conservations work; you cannot conserve something unless you know where it occurs.

BNM and NMRS data have been used in recent years to develop a traits database for Lepidoptera; a tool for land managers to help with decision making regarding the control of Oak Processionary Moth; and within multiple scientific research papers. Further details on data use can be found in section 10.

How to become a County Recorder

There are around 200 County Recorder positions across the UK, so we are often looking for new volunteers. Vacancies for County Recorders that are affiliated with Butterfly Conservation are advertised on the Butterfly Conservation website. In some instances, the Local Natural History Society or Local Environmental Records Centre is responsible for the appointment of County Recorders. To check the situation in your area please contact us via @email.

If you’re interested in this kind of volunteering but not ready to be a County Recorder, see section 2 for information about verification teams and assistant roles.

What the County Recorder role involves

As County Recorder you act as the focal point for recording in your area, which will normally be individual counties, but may sometimes be larger areas, and facilitate data flow to the national schemes from local recording. You will be responsible for the promotion of butterfly and/or moth recording and conservation in your area and act as an intermediary between local recorders and the central recording schemes. You will ensure the quality of butterfly and moth records which are submitted to the Butterflies for the New Millennium (BNM) and the National Moth Recording Scheme (NMRS).

With support from your team and Butterfly Conservation, you carry out the following activities for the UK recording schemes:

  • Undertake quality control of records (verification) from Butterfly Conservation schemes, to identify and correct errors (with assistance from other experts if necessary)
  • Process Butterfly Conservation records in accordance with our data policy and the UK GDPR (training provided).
  • Forward copies of your area’s dataset to Butterfly Conservation annually, by 31st March, for incorporation into the UK databases
  • Respond to queries about records from Butterfly Conservation
  • Be an identifiable local expert in butterflies or moths and promote Butterfly Conservation’s recording schemes

County Recorders, and their teams, also carry out the following activities locally (on behalf of Butterfly Conservation if we appointed you to the County Recorder Network):

  • Collate and verify the butterfly or moth records for your area
  • Computerise the butterfly or moth records for your area
  • Maintain a computer database of butterfly or moth records for your area
  • Provide encouragement, information, support and feedback to local recorders (e.g., through direct communication, writing newsletters, reports and articles, web pages, meetings etc.)
  • Liaise with relevant local groups (e.g., natural history societies, biological records centres etc.)

Some County Recorders are also:  

  • Run public events to promote lepidoptera recording and engage with local communities, landowners and the wider public
  • Promote lepidoptera recording by providing comments for local media on request

What is GDPR?

The UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect on 25th May 2018. The UKGDPR is UK law and covers any person or organisation that gathers, holds and uses personal data. The names of recorders and any details about their address, postcode etc. included in butterfly and moth records are personal data under the GDPR. Put simply, personal data is anything that allows an individual to be identified. Therefore due to handling recorders’ data, all County Recorders are subject to thee legal responsibilities of the UK GDPR.

Skills and resources required to be a County Recorder

All Butterfly Conservation volunteers register with us via a database called Assemble, here we manage your role description and role-specific resources, communication and training.

For the Butterfly Conservation County Recorder roles it is important that:

  • you have proficiency at butterfly and/or moth identification - or be willing to work with others to learn, or to share verification tasks
  • you have a knowledge of species flight times and distributions or ability to work with this information
  • you have a willingness to learn more about butterflies and/or moths
  • you enjoy working with others, be approachable and supportive to other recorders or verifiers
  • you have a personal computer password protected with up-to-date antivirus software and internet connection
  • you are confident using a computer to communicate and manage information
  • you have the ability to carefully manipulate and process data, for example experience working with databases, spreadsheets or iRecord.
  • you are able to work with others to ensure deadlines are met
  • your behaviour will support Butterfly Conservation’s values
  • you will need secure email (an address we can share publicly for role-related contact) and access to the internet for this role

When do County Recorders volunteer?

The days and times when County Recorders volunteer are flexible. This role is active year-round with peaks during the winter months when records from recorders are collated and verified. The summer can also be busy as this is peak time for recording moths and butterflies. We aim to receive local datasets by 31st March each year, although you can submit data to the BNM and NMRS all year round.

To get a feel for the role we ask for new County Recorders or Verification Assistants to commit to it for a minimum of six months. Training to help support you in your role is available. We recommend that new County Recorders attend the training to help and guide you as you get established in the role. Some of the training may involve annual refreshers, for example GDPR.


County Recorders are vital in ensuring the quality of data for the Butterflies for the New Millennium (BNM) and the National Moth Recording Scheme (NMRS) that we manage. You act as a focal point, connecting and encouraging recorders. Whilst some experience in identification is needed for the role, we can provide training and support to develop skills and working as a team is also possible and encouraged. The role is flexible enough to fit around your other commitments. Contact @email if you are interested in becoming a County Recorder.