Using BLS records

NBN Gateway

The BLS datasets for England, Scotland, Wales, Rare and Threatened Lichens, and the Mapping Scheme can be accessed through the NBN Gateway They were last updated in July 2013.

The NBN Gateway is a website run by the National Biodiversity Network. It brings together millions of records for many species groups, including mammals, birds, invertebrates and plants, and can be searched for them by species, site, grid square, or by using the interactive map, by area.

If you are new to the Gateway, start by typing in a lichen name and looking at the grid and interactive maps. To restrict your view to just the BLS datasets tick off any others in the list below the map and Refresh. In the interactive map try zooming in on an area and changing the background. Click on a dot to call up the details of the records it includes.

Registering with the NBN Gateway and then logging in to the site when using it gives access to more functions, and you can then request a higher level of access including recorder names and sensitive species records.

The BLS database holds more detail for each record than can be put on the NBN Gateway, even at the higher level of access, and we may have more records than have yet been uploaded, so anyone needing data directly from the database should contact Janet Simkin on

There are restrictions on the use of records from the NBN Gateway for commercial purposes, publications or research. Users should check the NBN Gateway Terms and Conditions of Use, and request permission from the BLS if appropriate.

Follow the links below to browse mapped BLS datasets via the NBN


Distribution maps

Dot maps for all the lichens and lichenicolous fungi for which there are records in the BLS database are included in the species accounts on this website. They are in a standard format, with dots relating to hectads and different colours used for records made pre-1960, since 1960 and since 2000. More up to date maps are available on request, and the colours and date ranges can be changed if required. Distribution maps are also available for regions and vice counties, with dots for hectads (10km squares), tetrads (2km squares) or monads (1km squares).

Coincidence maps are also available. These show the number of species for which we have records in each 10km, 5km, 2km or 1km square, and they can be useful in helping to focus recording on areas for which we have no, or very few, records. Again they can be produced for regions or vice counties.


Vice county recorders and researchers can also be provided with the records for their area in spreadsheet form.

Correcting errors

Please note that the BLS can take no responsibility for the accuracy of records in our database or on the NBN Gateway. Our own data has been through several stages of automated and expert review, but there will still be errors and you are encouraged to let us know if you come across errors in determination (often just input errors), location, grid references or dates. If you can add detail to a record we will update the database and NBN Gateway accodingly.

Datasets on the NBN Gateway from other providers may not have been through the same review process, so critical lichen records should always be checked against the BLS database.