The Seabird Monitoring Programme (SMP) works to support the protection and conservation of our internationally important seabird populations through monitoring, surveillance, and delivery of robust scientific evidence, outreach, and by stimulating research to target effective management action.
The SMP was established in 1986 as an ongoing annual monitoring programme of the 25 seabird species which regularly breed in the UK. Regional and national data on the breeding numbers and the success of seabirds enable their conservation status to be assessed.
The scheme is complemented by periodic censuses that provide more comprehensive assessments of the size and overall status of breeding seabird populations across Britain and Ireland and which provide context to the conservation of seabirds at protected sites. The SMP was established in 1986, following the second of these censuses, and organised by JNCC through to the end of the 2021 breeding season. The latest census, Seabirds Count, also organised by JNCC, was completed between 2015-21.
The SMP’s aims are to:
- Collect and synthesise high-quality, representative, and accessible data on seabird breeding abundance, distribution, and demographics, to inform conservation policy and management affecting breeding seabirds.
- Provide underpinning evidence that supports the identification of drivers of seabird population trends and research into the mitigation of their negative effects.
- Develop and maintain an effective partnership of professional and non-professional contributors to seabird monitoring, facilitating increased public knowledge and appreciation of seabirds and their environment.
The SMP is funded jointly by the British Trust for Ornithology and Joint Nature Conservation Committee, in association with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and is supported by Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, NatureScot and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Northern Ireland, and a wider advisory group. Close collaboration with organisations in the Republic of Ireland enables all-Ireland interpretation of seabird trends.
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