One European Collection of biodiversity data to help nature conservation in region

Photo: Deputy Director of GBIF Secretariat Tim Hirsch speaks at a meeting (GIZ ORF-BDU)


February 11, 2020






February 11, 2020





Natural science information needs to be findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable. In short – FAIR. GBIF and DiSSCo are getting decision makers and taxonomic facilities in the region on board with the One European Collection plan for biodiversity data. It implies joint development and research across the continent, specialization and getting more with growing scope and scale.

The Global Biodiversity Information Facility and the Distributed System of Scientific Collections have been promoting the vision of integrating information from national scientific assets into a continent-wide data system. Abbreviated GBIF and DiSSCo, the two organizations presented the idea in December 2019 to representatives of nature history museums of countries in the Western Balkans and later to officials delegated by data users, namely state authorities and institutions.

The One European Collection plan implies joint development and research, opening opportunities for specialization and benefiting from economies of scope and scale.

Widening availability of biodiversity data

GBIF is a research infrastructure that supports the publication of free and open standardized primary biodiversity data from sources including collections, citizens science and the private sector. It gathers governments, aiming to widen access to biodiversity data and underpin their publication and use. The DiSSCo initiative is pushing for digital unification under common curation. It is working on the establishment of One Europe Collection with the motive for the natural science data to be findable, more accessible, interoperable and reusable – FAIR.

The gatherings were held in Podgorica and Sarajevo. GBIF and DiSSCo want to ensure the economies in the region join the endeavor and to keep them informed about experiences and ambitions.

Elements in global knowledge

Much more data from collections and monitoring programs can be mobilized in this underrepresented region and improve decision making and understanding of biodiversity in Southeastern Europe, said Deputy Director of GBIF Secretariat Tim Hirsch.

Dimitris Koureas

Dimitris Koureas, DiSSCo Coordinator, pointed out that each natural science collection is unique in the understanding of biological diversity in global terms. “Along with their linked expertise, collections support discovery and modelling of all life on Earth. DiSSCo is conceived and working on enabling open, unfettered and consolidated access to a digitally integrated European collection through an integrated European scientific asset that enables scientific innovation at scale,” he stressed.

Strategy and fundamentals

Comprehensive nature conservation planning warrants data availability and exchange. DiSSCo insists on the strategic importance and fundamental value of collections at the European Union level. Taxonomic facilities curating them, like natural history museums, botanical gardens and universities, are the custodians of the ultimate research object. A systemic approach is bound to open links to funding sources and training and strengthen transparency regarding returns on investment and knowledge sharing.

GIZ Open Regional Fund for South East Europe – Implementation of Biodiversity Agreements (ORF BDU) established formal partnerships with the two infrastructures. It supports the cause within its Biodiversity Information Management and Reporting 2 – BIMR 2 component.

GIZ ORF BDU Sector Fund Manager Verena Sommer said: “This meeting was a great possibility to better understand the benefits of translating biodiversity data into environmental research properly. Using the value of natural history collections is promising for further biodiversity data management in the Western Balkan, and ultimately for effective conservation of exceptional nature of this region.”

biodiversity data
GIZ ORF BDU Sector Fund Manager Verena Sommer

Worldwide community

DiSSCo is working on a communication and cooperation strategy with the governments willing to move forward. It underscores its determination to inform, advise and support taxonomic facilities in the region to benefit from the services the research infrastructure plan to provide. DiSSCo consists of 120 taxonomic facilities in 21 countries, the largest community of natural science collections.

GBIF has 97 participant institutions and organizations, and it holds 1.387.842.071 occurrence records. It is one of the reference points for the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity or CBD.

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