From Dr Brian MacSharry European Environment Agency
Hello everyone, there is some great discussion going on here, please find my observations. which compliment much of what has been said!
(i) The current status and trends regarding the generation, collection, curation, exchange and/or utilization of biodiversity-related data, information and knowledge;
The EEA and EU work with European work with countries to collect data under a series of voluntary and obligated reporting flows using approved data standards. The development of these data standards is done in conjunction with these countries. We collect data on a regular basis (from yearly to every 6 years basis) and this is stored in a centralised system (the central data repository [CDR] where countries submit their data. We run a series of quality checks on the data and report these back to the countries to ensure they can resolve any technical issues.
A crucial next step is that we use the submitted data to generate knowledge and information on biodiversity in Europe. We do this by preparing a series of analysis, indicators, briefings, and reports. As with the reporting cycle of the data some of these products are updated annually others are updated/published every several years.
In order to ensure that the variety of biodiversity data being collected and the various products derived from them are not isolate products we integrate them into the Biodiversity information system for Europe. The Biodiversity information system for Europe is the single-entry point for data on information on biodiversity in Europe, with a focus on supporting the implementation of EU and Global biodiversity policies in Europe. On this platform we bring together the separate biodiversity data on protected areas, species, habitats, ecosystems, green infrastructure as well as the indicators, briefings and reports to make them more available. The aim of the platform is to provide knowledge and information to policy makers and the general public on biodiversity. Note the platform is currently being overhauled and will be relaunched in Oct 2020.
(ii) The current major sources of biodiversity data and information;
The main sources of information are from Countries and from products derived from remote sensing. Data submitted from countries comes via field work, modelling, expert opinion, and surveying. This work covers protected areas (both the geographical aspect as well as the content aspects, i.e. what is within certain protected areas - Natura 2000) as well as reporting on the distribution, populations, trends and conservation status of species and habitats (submitted every 6 years but continually worked on by countries) this work involves thousands of staff involved, 100,000 hours (if not more) of people across European countries. The second main source of data is that generated by the Agency and derived from satellite technology which is often backed up by expert opinion, field work and modelling, this work covers Land use and mapping of ecosystems (a project called Mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services - MAES which has a report with a series of related assessments of the condition of these ecosystems). The EU has created the Copernicus programme, which is the EU’s Earth Observation Programme. This is increasingly becoming a source of biodiversity information for countries and at the European level by the Joint Research Centre and the EEA. Copernicus produces 12 Tb of data daily.
At the Agency in partnership with countries and the Joint Research Centre we use this data to generate knowledge and information applying our skills and experience in biodiversity to add context and interpretation of the data.
(iii) The main biodiversity data, information and knowledge gaps;
• The effectiveness of management of protected areas
• There are still a number of unknowns in terms of the population and status of several habitats and species.
• The impact of threats and pressures on the wider ecosystem
• Coordination between local and regional/global level can be a challenge at times.
• In some countries there is a lack of information on the distribution of species and habitats
(iv) The strengths and weaknesses of existing information and knowledge management systems (including the legal and policy environment, the institutional arrangements, infrastructure and technologies);
Regarding the Biodiversity information system for Europe and associated work flows
• network, number of people involved leads to collective ownership of the process.
• We engage all the key actors and ensure we are coordinated in our approach
• All data being used is quality controlled
• Collect data on a regular basis
• Build relationships with data providers, policy makers
• We use the data collected, which gives data providers the “why” they should submit data.
• We ensure we use the same data across several products so that there is consistency in messaging on biodiversity
• Consistent methodology for analysis
• It is open and accessible by all (the only limitations to this are where countries expressly ask for restrictions on data use).
• Linked to policy, i.e. there is a reason why we ask what we ask and do what we do. There is a strong policy framework to define what it is we do
• The current platform is dated but is being upgraded at the moment with a new version being launched in Oct 2020.This refers to how the system is engineered and how the system looks.
• You need to be current in the use of technology
• A system needs to be policy led
(v) Opportunities and challenges for biodiversity knowledge management;
There are several clear opportunities for biodiversity knowledge management over the coming years.
• Remotely sensed data, such as from Copernicus, the EU’s Earth Observation Programme, provide 12 Tb of data, using this can help transform how we collect data. It will also lead to challenges on how to manage such a large amount of data
• Advances in cloud computing will allow for complex analysis to be done virtually instantaneously. The challenge here is in understanding what analysis to do and what policy questions it will answer.
• Artificial intelligence/Machine learning has the potential to automate many tasks currently being done. It can help in quality control of data, understand patterns, read and synthesis written text in different languages. The challenge here is again in aligning this with clear policy needs, everything should link to the “why”?
• In the coming years we will have larger data, quicker analysis, but this leads to issues in terms of storage of this data and we need to always ensure that technical advances are policy led.
(vi) The main actors and their roles; and
• Countries and their agencies, data providers, policy implementors
• NGOs: data users (sometime data providers, collectors), policy advocates
• conservation groups, data users (sometime data providers, collectors), policy advocates
• Researchers: data users (sometime data providers, collectors), policy advocates
• Volunteers: data collectors
• regional and global actors : policy developers, implementors, networking
(viii) The experiences, best practices and lessons learned.
• Engage and give ownership with the relevant actors
• Focus on the key policy questions (and key biodiversity questions)
• Evolve how you collect, manage, analyse data
• Everything you do should answer the “why”