Our Work

The British Dragonfly Society (BDS) was founded in 1983 by a small group of dragonfly enthusiasts and scientists. The Society has grown substantially since that time and the current BDS membership of about 1,600 is spread the length and breadth of the country, as well as into Europe and beyond. We have three main aims: to carry out and support research on dragonflies, to conserve dragonflies and to engage the public with dragonflies and their wetland habitats.



Science is at the core of what we do, with rigorous research and recording helping us to understand dragonfly populations and the changes they are undergoing. Within the British Dragonfly Society is the Dragonfly Conservation Group (DCG), a consortium of dragonfly experts who focus on the research and conservation aspects of the society. All members of the DCG voluntarily give their time and energy to work with the British Dragonfly Society and their help is invaluable to the work we do.

The BDS runs the dragonfly recording network, Dragonflywatch, with records from volunteers going towards creating and interpreting trends in dragonfly populations and monitoring changes in our dragonfly populations in response to factors such as climate and habitat change. The recording network is vital to our supporting the delivery of key publications such as the Atlas of Dragonflies in Britain and Ireland (published in 2014), numerous local dragonfly atlases and the Dragonfly App.

We support both student and professional level research projects looking at a variety of aspects of dragonfly biology and ecology (for some potential project ideas visit our research projects page) as well as publishing research on dragonflies in our well respected Journal of the British Dragonfly Society.

We provide policy support through our data and expertise by being part of a number of key partnerships, such as the State of Nature Partnership and the Wales Biodiversity Partnership, while our Conservation Officer also sits in a number of key working groups, for example the Species Expert Group (SEG). We are committed to ensuring the data we produce is put to good use in conserving dragonflies and their habitats and that dragonflies are properly represented.



The work we do for dragonfly research we put to good use in conserving dragonflies and their habitats. We work with various partner organisations on dragonfly conservation projects, including habitat restoration (see Southern Damselfly Restoration in the Preseli Hills and Glen Affric Peatland Restoration Project) and species re-introductions (see White-faced Darter on Foulshaw Moss). We also provide advice to other conservation organisations, governmental bodies and private landowners on managing for endangered dragonflies. We produce a number of publications and management sheets to further aid others in managing for dragonflies, all of which can be located on out Publications page. We also take part in important pieces of work promoting the cause of UK nature conservation and specifically dragonflies and their habitats, for example the State of Nature 2016. As well as our policy support work, we also engage in consultations and development plans which effect threatened dragonflies and their habitats, working to protect dragonflies both now and in the future.


Public Engagement and Education

We are working hard to increase public understand and awareness of dragonflies, their conservation and the challenges they face in order to increase concern and action for dragonflies. There are many strands to our public engagement work, all of which rely upon the dedication of our volunteers. We run The Dragonfly Centre at Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire. Throughout the summer months the centre is manned by enthusiastic BDS volunteers who introduce adults and children alike to dragonflies via interpretation material, two custom-made ponds and regular courses and walks, using the fantastic resource of Wicken Fen to engage the public face to face with dragonflies. We also run an impressive programme of courses, walks and talks across the whole of Britain and attend numerous wildlife events, such as the well reknown Birdfair, in order to reach as great an audience as possible, running or attending over 70 events in 2016. We have created publications aimed to help others engage the public with dragonflies too, such as our ‘Creating Engagement between People and Dragonflies’ leaflet which can be found on the Publications page. We have a network of dedicated BDS Local Dragonfly Recorders in 72 Vice Counties across Britain. These volunteers work hard to introduce people within their vice-county to dragonflies and are happy to provide advice and support to those with a keen interest but little experience in dragonflies and dragonfly recording.

We also work to engage with young people. We have developed a fantastic set of educational resources for teachers, outdoor educators and parents aimed at children aged 5-11. We are now working to develop materials for teenagers.

We know that dragonflies are amazing and we want more people to have the opportunity of experiencing this for themselves. We believe the more people get to know dragonflies, the more they will care about both them and their habitat and this is why we work tirelessly to increase public awareness of these fantastic creatures.


 BDS Patron - Sir David Attenborough


Sir David AttenboroughSir David Attenborough OM CH FRS, Britain's best-known natural history film-maker, became only the second BDS Patron in 2008, following on from Dame Miriam Rothschild who sadly died in 2005.

His career as a naturalist and broadcaster has spanned five decades and there are few places on the planet he hasn’t visited. It was the Zoo Quest series of the mid-1950s to 60s that gave him his first opportunity to undertake expeditions to remote parts of the world, capturing intimate footage of rare species in their natural habitats. Prior to this Sir David had attended Cambridge University, spent two years in the Royal Navy and undertaken his first job at the London publishing house of Hodder & Stoughton.

Sir David became Controller of BBC2 in 1965, then Director of Programmes for the BBC in 1969. He was responsible for bringing colour television to Britain, but in 1973 he decided to return to documentary-making and writing. He was soon standing knee-deep in bat droppings in a cave in Borneo; something he much preferred to administration work. Since that time he has brought many memorable series to our screens including ‘Life on Earth’, ‘The Living Planet’ and more recently ‘Life in the Undergrowth’.


BDS President - Mike Dilger


Mike is a well-known TV presenter as well as a qualified and skilled naturalist and writer. His enthusiasm for dragonflies and damselflies has seen him support BDS on many occasions in recent years and he has fulfilled the role of President since August 2016. Accepting the invitation, Mike said: “With new species recently reported to have begun breeding here, it’s an exciting time to be watching dragonflies and damselflies in Britain. These charismatic insects are not just utterly entrancing to observe and study in their own right, but their continued presence in many of our rivers, streams, pond and lakes also tells us a much bigger story about the health of our waterways up and down the country. I’m delighted to have been asked to become the new President of such a proactive charity, and look forward to ‘banging the Odonata drum' at every available opportunity to ensure these wonderful creatures get the limelight they truly deserve.”




The BDS gratefully acknowledges funding and support from the following:

NE logo SNH logo    




BDS Constitution

Constitution and By-laws of the British Dragonfly Society, as updated in 2016.

Policies and Annual Reports

The Society's policies and its annual reports to the Charity Commission may be freely downloaded.