An international conference Adaptation Strategies to Global Environmental Change in the Mediterranean City and the Role of Global Earth Observations will take place between 10-11 June 2014 in Athens, Greece. The conference will explore the potential of earth observations and thrust climate information transfer from the science to the stakeholder application realm, in order to develop suitable adaptation measures at national and regional levels.

It will identify best adaptation programs and approaches to global environmental change in Mediterranean-climate cities. The aim is to enhance and strengthen European and international cooperation in the context of the activities within the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), and promote tools and options for adaptation strategies. The Conference will help local and regional authorities and stakeholders to gain insight on the role of EO-based services in adapting to climate chance impacts in urban hot-spot areas.

The eighth annual series of GEO European Projects Workshops will be consequently held on 12-13 June as a follow-up of the conference. The worksops are intended to bring all those interested in and actively contributing to the Global Earth Observations System of Systems (GEOSS) from all over Europe together, in order to present their work and discuss how Europe can contribute to this international effort, especially in the wake of the launch of the new EU Framework Programme for Research, Horizon 2020, and the renewal of the mandate of GEO for another 10 years through the endorsement of the 2014.

Registrations opens: 16 February 2014

Information and registration:

First Announcement (pdf flie)

Following the GEO-X Plenary in Geneva earlier this year (15-16 January 2014), GEO now issues Revision 3 of the GEO 2012-2015 Work Plan incorporating comments from the meeting. The new work plan is available through the GEO Work Plan Information Management system.

The GEO Work Plan provides the agreed framework for implementing the GEOSS 10-Year Implementation Plan (2005-2015). It is a living document that is updated annually. The 2012-2015 Work Plan has been designed to meet the 2015 GEOSS Strategic Targets. As a result, the tasks of the Work Plan correspond to outcomes identified as being necessary to meet the Strategic Targets.

The highlighted actions in the revised work plan are as follows:

The GEO Work Plan provides a flexible action-oriented framework for developing new projects within and across areas, and coordinating strategies and investments. Benefits and opportunities include inter-alia: fostering networking and partnerships (new contacts and collaborations); launching regional and/or global initiatives (e.g. GEO BON, GEOGLAM); providing access to data (making more data available); enlarging user-bases (users grow in numbers and diversity); developing and maintaining capacity (participants build on complementarity); increasing visibility and high-level support (e.g. through the GEO Website, Newsletter, Plenary, Ministerial); and leveraging funding for activities (funding mechanisms value contributions to GEOSS implementation, like the European 7th Framework Programme).

EU BON site data management workshop and Memorandum of Understanding

A joint workshop of the Sierra Nevada LTER site and EU BON was held on 29-31 January 2014 in Granada, Spain and was hosted by the University of Granada. The aim of this meeting was to bring together the Spanish members of the Sierra Nevada LTER site and test site partners from EU BON (WP1, WP2 and WP5) to discuss and develop a closer relationship in exchanging datasets and experiences in site management, long-term monitoring activities and technical requirements for data management.

During the first day of the workshop, 19 participants from EU BON, the Sierra Nevada LTER site (e.g. Regino Zamora Rodriguez and Francisco Bonet) and guests from the remote sensing EU project BIO_SOS and GBIF Spain gave an overview of their activities to obtain information on their projects and to point out likely synergies and linkages. First, the Sierra Nevada LTER site was introduced, particularly the methodologies to monitor and evaluate biodiversity and the structure of the information system Linaria was shown. Thereafter EU BON testing sites (Doñana, Rhine-Main, Amvrakikos) outlined their current activities regarding data collection, data processing and data integration, in addition to that the results of a recently conducted gap analysis of the test sites were presented. In the afternoon session of the meeting, the planned information architecture of EU BON was explained and ways outlined of how biodiversity data could be integrated.

At the second day, the participants visited a highly monitored area located in the southern part of Sierra Nevada (Alpujarras) that is covered mainly by Quercus pyrenaica forests. The field trip included stops at a meteorological station, a traditional hydrological system was visited to show former human impact in the area and the functionality of a field NDVI camera was shown. This site-trip was also used to officially hand-over the Memorandum of Understanding, signed between the University of Granada and EU BON, to strengthen the cooperation between the Sierra Nevada LTER and the EU BON test sites. Anke Hoffmann on behalf of EU BON handed the MoU to Professor Regino Zamora Rodriguez, the scientific coordinator of the Sierra Nevada Global Change Observatory. The University of Granada is now a new associate partner of EU BON, a consortium with currently 30 partners from 18 countries.

At the last day local scientists gave an overview of the research conducted in Sierra Nevada. After that session, the workshop aimed to discuss the functionality of the envisaged MetaCat (dataprovider for Metadata) approach for the EU BON test sites and the advantages of self-developed information system Linaria of the Sierra Nevada LTER site.

EU BON will further intensify the dialogue with the University of Granada and the Sierra Nevada LTER site. It is scheduled to have a further meeting at the upcoming General Meeting of EU BON (Greece, 30 March-2 April 2014) to strengthen the partnership with the LTER test site.

For further questions please contact Anke Hoffmann or Florian Wetzel

Presentations from the meeting:

Day 1

1. Zamora - Ramos - Sierra Nevada global change obs
2. Bonet - The Linaria information system
3. Hoffmann - Häuser - Introduction to EU BON
4. Juan Negro  - CSIC-EBD
4. Juan Negro Donana 2
4. Juan Negro Donana 3
5. Stoll - test site Rhein - Main
6. Dailianis - test site Amvrakikos
7. Wetzel - Gap analysis
8. Palma Blonda - BIO_SOS and remote sensing
9. Pando - EU BON GBIF Granada 2014
10. Kunin- EU BON Work package 3

Day 3

1. Megia - Mendenez - Climate Change andd elevational range shifts
2. Gomez - Hybridization
3. Villar - Argaiz  Long time series in high mountain lakes
4. Moreno - Vegetation changes during Holocene

Workshop Agenda

Workshop Minutes

Workshop Photos (Google+ | Facebook)

Ecosystem functioning, or the role which organisms play in an ecosystem, is becoming increasingly important in marine ecological and conservation. To facilitate such studies an international team of scientists lead by S. Faulwetter from the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HMRC) present the Polytraitsdatabase that aims to provide re-usable, and accessible data on marine bristle worms. The paper describing the new database was published in the innovative Biodiversity Data Journal, a pioneer in the publication of integrated biological data.

Benthic organisms participate in a number of biological processes in world water basins. Their functional diversity is an important community property demonstrating the role organisms have in the ecosystem and helping to understand how the community reacts to environmental changes. Polychaetes, or bristle worms, are marine worms famous for their peculiar shapes and often vivid coloration. More than 10,000 species are described in the class worldwide, most of which living in the shelf zone of the seas and oceans, burrowing in the sediment or swimming among the plankton.

At present, the Polytraits database contains almost 20,000 records on morphological, behavioural and reproductive characteristics of more than 1,000 species, all referenced by literature sources. All data on these engaging organisms can be freely accessed through the project website in different ways and formats, both human-readable and machine-readable. The new database presents a rich and easy to use collection, which cover morphological, reproductive and behavioural characteristics of polychaetes, as well as information on environmental preferences in an attempt to facilitate ecological research and conservation studies.

The researchers also provide a leading-edge approach to accessing, integrating and re-using the data. Through programming interfaces, the life-cycle information is automatically integrated into the Polychaetes Scratchpads, together with other data on polychaetes. Scratchpads are easy to use, adaptable, and provide powerful tools for managing biodiversity data. This taxon-centric virtual research environment allows browsing the taxonomic classification and retrieving various kinds of relevant information for each taxon, among which are also the collected biological traits.

Furthermore, the data are also accessible through Encyclopedia of Life's TraitBank which currently features over 3 million records related to more than 250 attributes for 272,720 taxa, including the Polytraits data. TraitBank serves as a provider for aggregated species trait data. All data uploaded there are archived and integrated with trait information from other sources to address issues of standardization of scientific data. This is the first complex database for marine organisms to be published in such an innovative way and demonstrates yet another example of collaboration between the data publisher Pensoft and Encyclopedia of Life.


The second plenary of the Platform met in December 2013 and agreed an ambitious work programme for 2014-2018: Details of the agreed work programme are available in the advanced meeting report of the Plenary.

The IPBES Secretariat have now issued a call for experts to help scope, advise on and deliver the work programme. Governments and relevant stakeholders can put forward nominations, from which the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel of IPBES will select a maximum of 20% of experts from the stakeholder nominations, and the rest from the government nominations.

The UK expects IPBES to make use of the best scientists/experts from all relevant disciplines - natural science, social science, economics, data and modelling and traditional knowledge, and to achieve a geographical and gender balance among those experts in the delivery of the IPBES work programme.

More information of the required topics to be covered by experts, alongside the nomination forms and how to nominate can be found in the attachments below.

On the 17 Jan in Geneva, the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) received unanimous endorsement to unleash the power of open data for a second decade. There was agreement to continue building on the organization’s first 10 years of pioneering environmental advances, which are designed to improve the quality of life of people everywhere. Fueled by open data, GEO’s efforts are now evident in most regions of the world. GEO is comprised of 90 member nations, the European Commission and 77 Participating Organizations.

"GEO is successfully meeting its mandate, which is to make data and other information open, accessible and easy to discover for decision makers around the world," said Mr. Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment. "GEO’s vision is now operational, a proven force for putting sound science to work across nine essential areas: agriculture, biodiversity, climate, disasters, ecosystems, energy, health, water and weather."

GEO’s mandate is to drive the interoperability of the many thousands of space-based, airborne and in situ Earth observations around the globe. Without concerted efforts to coordinate across diverse observations, these separate systems often yield just snapshot assessments, leading to gaps in scientific understanding and hampering data fusion in support of better decision making for society. GEO aims to fill such gaps by providing a comprehensive, more integrated picture of our changing Earth. GEO is accomplishing this by establishing a Global Earth Observation System of Systems, known as GEOSS, and a Portal through which data and other information can be easily accessed at little or no cost.

"Rather than snapshot assessments, GEO gives us moving pictures of a changing planet," said Mr. Cao Jianlin, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China. "Our world does not work just in the sea, on land, in the atmosphere or in space, and our policies cannot reflect individual domains either."  China, for example, is partnering with 46 other GEO-member nations and several of GEO’s Participating Organizations to ensure that unprecedented data will be available to measure the effects of human activities and natural processes on the carbon cycle, the first such coordinated effort at the global level.

In South Africa, 22 nations and 5 GEO Participating Organizations recently launched AfriGEOSS with the goal of strengthening that continent’s capabilities to produce, manage and use earth observations. "This new initiative gives us the necessary framework to support informed decisions about a range of priorities, including food security, access to clean water and sanitation, natural resources, and coastal and disaster management," said Derek Hannekom, Minister of Science and Technology, South Africa.

By increasing the utility of open data about the Earth, GEO is helping to mitigate disasters, develop water-management strategies, support citizen observatories, and strengthen food security. GEO is driving the development of new tools, such as a cholera early warning system, as well as painting fuller pictures of complex environmental processes, including through global observations of ocean acidification at the global scale and observations of atmospheric greenhouse gases from space. GEO participants are also studying the footprint of mining practices, with the aim of minimizing future impacts on nearby communities and natural habitat, and focusing on links between air quality and health. There is also focus on the far-reaching consequences of melting glaciers and other serious cold-region concerns.

"The Obama Administration continues to work to catalyze the emergence of new businesses, products and services powered by the U.S. Government's open data. Increasing access to data and data sharing, both nationally and internationally, is crucial for unleashing innovation across our data-driven economy," said Dr. Patrick Gallagher, performing the duties of the Deputy Secretary of Commerce." GEO's collaborative work to integrate open data about the Earth continues to drive the development of new tools, services and scientific insights that are used around the world to support sound decision making."

The Mediterranean Institute for Biodiversity and Ecology (IMBE, Aix-Marseille University, Aix-en-Provence, France), in its Research Group "Macroecology and Biogeography of Global Change (MacroBio)" has a 36-months PhD position open for applications. The position is funded by the European Commission through the FP7 Research Project OPERAs and affiliated to the French National Scientific Research Centre (CNRS).

The topic is the broad-scale spatial mapping and quantification of ecosystem service trade-offs following from management of agro-ecosystems in the Mediterranean basin. The context of the research includes the environment (climate, land use) as well as trends in societal demands for services. Based on scientific literature, spatial databases and the outputs from a process-based ecosystem model, the candidate will analyze, quantify and map ecosystem service trade-offs. Service valuation and indicator representation methods will be developed with the IMBE team. The approach is pan-Mediterranean: a significant part of the work will therefore consist of helping to reduce gaps in data and knowledge for the sum of countries around the Mediterranean basin. 

The research group works in close interaction with international programs such as Future Earth (through its project ecoSERVICES) and science-policy interfaces such as IPBES.

The successful candidate will have completed a Masters degree (or equivalent) in one of the environmental sciences, have experience in the handling of spatial data from databases, literature and models, have knowledge of existing concepts of ecosystem services, and be able to place results in the context of the Mediterranean basin (this includes the European, as well as North African and Eastern countries). The working language is English, appropriate skills in French or another of the Mediterranean languages will be an advantage.

The position will be filled when a suitable candidate has been identified. To apply for this position, please send a letter of application, demonstrating your ability to understand the task, and your CV as soon as possible, but before the 31st of January 2013, by e-mail to Ms. Gabriela Boéri ( For any questions about the task, working conditions, or the OPERAs project, please contact Professor Wolfgang Cramer (

The ASEAN-EU Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Days will take place between 21-23 January 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand.  As a part of the conference EU BON is  going to hold a workshop called "Integration of biodiversity data recording and information management systems for environmental sustainability: a call for EU-ASEAN collaboration" (22nd January).

The agenda of the EU BON workshop includes:

  • Review and compare the situation regarding relevant biodiversity and Earth observation data and information sources/providers in EU and ASEAN;
  • Examine linkages between regional/national ASEAN and EU efforts with international / global biodiversity information systems (in particular GBIF, GEO BON);
  • Assess and discuss national vs. regional level priorities and needs with regard to integrated biodiversity information in ASEAN and Europe;
  • Identify common challenges and needs towards further integration of different types, levels, and scopes of available data and information systems;
  • To address how S&T cooperation between Europe and ASEAN in the area of biodiversity and Earth observation could be further developed to better serve policy needs (especially in light of IPBES), and to contribute to common goals towards sustainable economic development

The ASEAN-EU Science, Technology and Innovation Days serve as a visible forum for cooperation activities between the two regions in the field of STI. The event addresses researchers from most thematic areas – with a focus on the societal challenges with relevance to both regions – as well policy makers, research conducting companies and innovation managers. It takes place annually, alternating between an ASEAN and a European country. High-level policy makers as well as many research projects and companies seize the chance to network, discuss, exchange and inform themselves.

The FP7 CLIMSAVE project ("Climate Change Integrated Assessment Methodology for Cross-Sectoral Adaptation and Vulnerability in Europe") finished at the end of 2013. The project developed the CLIMSAVE Integrated Assessment Platform which is a unique user-friendly, interactive web-based tool that enables stakeholders to interactively explore the complex multi-sectoral issues surrounding impacts, adaptation and vulnerability to climate and socio-economic change within the agriculture, forest, biodiversity, coast, water and urban sectors.  Two versions of the tool have been developed: one for Europe and one for Scotland.

Two summary reports have been produced highlighting the policy relevant final results of the project for the European and Scottish case studies. The summary reports can be accessed from:

On 19 Nov 2013, a one-day EU BON workshop took place at the Leibniz-Association Headquarter in Berlin to further develop the strategy for citizen science in the project.  The workshop was a joint workshop of both work package 1 and work package 6 (organized by MfN and UTARTU) to bring together the partners from EU BON that work in the area of citizen science. Furthermore, the workshop aimed to discuss and plan the further activities regarding the next stakeholder roundtable on Citizen Science which is scheduled for 2014.

In the morning session, participants gave an overview of citizen science activities within Europe. Eight presentations from partners gave insight into citizen science initiatives and showed interesting approaches of how citizens can be involved and how datasets with information on biodiversity can be generated (please find the pdf of the presentations and minutes of the meeting below). Linda Davies, director and initiator of OPAL, one of the Europe’s most well-known citizen science initiatives, encouraged to emphasize not just data-value of citizen science, but to look for educational and awareness-rising aspects.

After an informative session there were discussions how to proceed with citizen science related tasks in EU BON. The workgroup was formed to take next steps for developing the concept of a European citizen science strategy within EU BON. It was decided that best practice examples will be used to outline the most efficient methods for incorporating citizen science in biodiversity research. Many other next steps were discussed for EU BON’s citizen science initiative (definition of the concrete role EU BON can and should play, technical solutions for citizen science data and projects, further involvement of Citizen Science stakeholders, identification of gaps).

EU BON will further intensify the dialogue between different groups related to citizen science, after a big step was done by this meeting. For example, in the next EU BON stakeholder roundtable, stakeholders such as the EEA, DG Research and Communication, ECSA, Eye on Earth and other users from political administration and scientists will be involved to discuss their needs and the contribution EU BON may provide.

For further questions please contact Katrin Vohland or Veljo Runnel

Presentations from the meeting:

Cristina Garilao - FishWatcher

Falko Glöckler - Anymals and Plants

Katrin Vohland - Citizen Science Germany

Katrin Vohland - Preparation of citizen science stakeholder meeting

Thanos Dailianis - Greece SC Project COMBER

Veljo Runnel - CS in EU BON

Veljo Runnel - CS Science in Estonia

Wouter Koch - Norway CS Project Artsobservasjoner

Israel Peer - CS Status in Israel - GlueCAD


Minutes of the Meeting - Citizen Science Workshop



Pollination and Land Degradation: Set as top Priorities for New Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) after the plenary

IPBES was established in April 2012, as an independent intergovernmental body open to all member countries of the United Nations. The members are committed to building IPBES as the leading intergovernmental body for assessing the state of the planet's biodiversity, its ecosystems, and the essential services they provide to society.

The second meeting of the Platform's Plenary (IPBES-2) took place in Antalya, Turkey, from 9 to 14 December 2013. Around 400 delegates from over 100 governments, scientific organizations, civil society and the private sector, attended the plenary. It was agreed to develop a set of assessments on pollination and food production, land degradation and invasive species aimed at providing policymakers with the tools to tackle pressing environmental challenges.

IPBES Member Governments present at the meeting adopted a very ambitious initial work programme for the Platform for the next five years, and demonstrated strong commitment to its implementation by already pledging more than half (US$ 25.4 million) of the total US$ 43.5 million required, in what will be remembered as the "Antalya consensus".

EU BON was represented by the project coordinator Christoph Häuser (Museum für Naturkunde, MfN), and colleagues Tim Hirsch (Danish Biodiversity information Facility, DanBIF), Dirk Schmeller (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, UFZ), Wolfgang Cramer and Ilse Geijzendorffer (National Center for Scientific Research, CNRS), Matthew Walpole (World Conservation Monitoring Centre, UNEP) and Lluís Brotons (European Bird Census Council, EBCC).

EU BON group photo from left to right: Tim Hirsch (DanBIF), Christoph Häuser (MfN), Matthew Walpole (UNEP), Ilse Geijzendorffer (CNRS), Dirk Schmeller (UFZ), Wolfgang Cramer (CNRS) and Lucas Joppa (Microsoft Reseach). Photo: Dirk Schmeller

Here are their views and comments on the meeting:

1) How can EU BON contribute to the success of IPBES?

Matthew Walpole: Knowledge generation is a key pillar of IPBES. Mobilising data and information on biodiversity and ecosystem services is an important element of knowledge generation, and will be vital in underpinning rigorous, comprehensive assessments. In that regard, and in particular in the context of potential European regional assessments, EU BON as an integral part of GEO BON has a clear contribution to make.

Dirk S. Schmeller: IPBES assessments will base on available data and newly collected data from organisations contributing to IPBES. While there are some global biodiversity information providers, like GBIF, EU BON goes further in bridging data collection and data infrastructure and transforming the data in policy relevant reports. Much of the work by IPBES relies on such a system, and EU BON would be a major step forward and if put on a global scale (as a contribution to GEO BON) will be crucial for the work of IPBES. EU BON should aim to organise a side event at IPBES-3, maybe jointly with GEO BON.

Tim Hirsch: EU BON and all of its partners, including GBIF, have a vitally important role in providing the data and information foundations for the work IPBES will carry out to strengthen the science-policy interface. All through the IPBES process, countries have committed to build on existing initiatives, and it is encouraging to see that approach is being followed as the institutions of the new platform emerge. For example, the proposed IPBES task force on knowledge and data, based on strategic partnerships with relevant institutions, provides a space for our data mobilization and integration activities  to contribute to the assessment, knowledge generation, capacity building and policy support functions of the platform.

Ilse Geijzendorffer: By giving them the knowledge of what is required for successful assessment execution in terms of infrastructure, data management and governance. We can also provide demo results for them, for instance by computing an indicator required in one of the required assessments. Then they can start thinking of how they would like to communicate about these kinds of results and put in place the necessary procedures. We could also offer our services for a case study with a developing country on one of the identified assessments to show how their data and experts (including local and indigenous knowledge holders) could be included in the assessment.

Christoph Häuser: Yes, EU BON can and most certainly will significantly contribute to IPBES: Regardless of what the first thematic priorities for IPBES assessments and reviews will be , all assessments will ultimately depend on available, reliable and meaningful biodiversity data and information. Here, EU BON will be able to help by showing new and practical ways how to access integrated data layers and sources at various scales and for different interest and purposes. EU BON will also be able to help IPBES with its large and growing networks of institutions and experts, ranging from technical to socio-political areas.

2) How can IPBES participants best be made aware of EU BON and its relevance for IPBES?

Lluis Brotons: First of all, IPBES is a global, really ambitious initiative and EU BON faces a real challenge to effectively reach the audience currently developing the platform. EU BON should carefully select bridging channels between the work developed within the project and the IPBES priorities. Once these priorities have been identified, EU BON could easily become a key partner in providing valuable information, methods and concepts to be used in the IPBES assessments. It will be specially important to focus on the thematic assessments that IPBES plans to carry out in the first place such as pollination and food production or the methodological oriented assessment on support tools and methodologies for scenario analysis and modelling of biodiversity and ecosystem services that should be started during 2014. The main work ahead for EU BON on  making IPBES participants best aware of our work rests upon our ability to translate EU BON facilities, data and methods to the approaches and needs of the platform. We will need to be proactive here, we should not wait for IPBES to ask for help, we need to offer it in an attractive and adequate manner.

Matthew Walpole: Whilst GEO BON will be known to participants, and is mentioned in IPBES documentation, EU BON as a contributor to GEO BON is currently less visible. It's profile may be best raised in the context of GEO BON's role, with particular reference to its unique contributions, including (i) in a European context as (ii) a potential model for other regions.

Dirk S. Schmeller: One important possibility to make EU BON more visible is to show what the BON could look like, what possibilities in regard to reporting tools exist and how it could contribute to GEO BON.

Tim Hirsch: It will be important for EU BON and its partners to continue to engage actively in the various processes and procedures that are emerging from this plenary meeting: for example where we may contribute data and information to the various thematic and regional assessments of biodiversity and ecosystem services that will be carried out during the first IPBES Work Programme over the next five years.

Christoph Häuser: While IPBES is still struggling to become really operational, EU BON should strive to lead by example: it could provide concrete show cases of integrative approaches towards biodiversity information; for example, how to pull together data from different layers, such as GBIF point occurrence and habitat or land cover data for a given areas, or how to operationalise Essential Biodiversity Variables or meaningful indicators from existing data sources.

3) Which IPBES members/participants/stakeholders do you see as key partners for EU BON, and which ones have you contacted?

Lluis Brotons: IPBES is still shaping itself and one of the challenges ahead for the platform is the participation of stakeholders in the different processes required to complete and analyse the planned thematic assessments.  In this line, in the second IPBES plenary, different EU BON partners have been teaming up with a number of other international stakeholders (IUCN, ICSU amongst others) to ensure that the scientific community and other knowledge holders directly contribute to the key parts of process. This is essential for the credibility of the assessments and the discussions in the meetings in Turkey have strongly revolved around the forms this participation may finally take. I would stress at this point that I do not clearly see key partners in IPBES, but more of a need to be also here proactive and work with other proactive stakeholders to articulate mechanisms by which non-governmental organisations are able to feed into the process. These mechanisms are likely to be critical in the future work of EU BON.

Matthew Walpole: There are various networks, initiatives and organisations promoting better biodiversity/environmental data mobilisation, integration, management and use (such as 'Eye on Earth' convened by the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI)). GEO BON/EU BON members (including GBIF and UNEP-WCMC) participate in such networks and it would be beneficial to forge stronger collaborative links. Other obvious partners include regional/national biodiversity centres beyond Europe with which EU BON might share/compare approaches as part of regional exchange and capacity development.

Tim Hirsch: It will particularly important to engage with the members of the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP) elected from each region to guide the scientific priorities of the platform's work, based on requests from governments, as well as the many scientific bodies, civil society groups and of course governments involved in the new platform - I have contacted a good proportion of them!

Ilse Geijzendorffer: Firstly, the stakeholder representation (our infrastructure could be included in the end as in kind contribution by an institute or network). Secondly, delegates favourable of scientific IPBES involvement (e.g. Switzerland, Germany, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Germany). I have not talked to Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Christoph Häuser: During IPBES2, I had the opportunity to make contacts with NatureServe, a prime organization and big player focusing on biodiversity information in the Western Hemisphere. It is these kinds of regional or global organizations with significant experiences and substantial assets in the area of biodiversity information generation and management, which EU BON should be liaising with more. With the (current) IPBES plenary being very much dominated by governments, it will remain a good forum for scientific initiatives and projects, such as EU BON, to build links to the political level, practically from all regions.

Dirk S. Schmeller: I agree with Christoph that EU BON needs to identify key players, such as Nature Serve, Earth Watch, dataONE and others. I had the pleasure to talk to the lead scientist of Nature Serve here in Antalya, Healy Hamilton, who expressed her interest in EU BON and GEO BON to allow an exchange of experiences and technologies. Such a collaboration will likely be beneficial for both projects/organisations. My interactions with MEP members from the different UN regions as well as delegates from different countries, which were much facilitated by IPBES, also did show the huge interest of these peers in an observation system to inform policy, but also the gaps in making known EU BON and GEO BON in some regions (e.g. Caribbean were unaware of GEO BON).

4) Which will be the emerging/new areas/challenges/questions regarding biodiversity data and monitoring coming from IPBES which EU BON needs to consider / take on board?

Lluis Brotons: Since IPBES it is in its early stages it is still difficult to identify specific questions or challenges regarding biodiversity data needs for this process. However, the advice I can give to EU BON partners is that they become familiar as early as possible with the scoping of the thematic assessments planned within the context of IPBES in the forthcoming years. The information provided in the initial scoping of these assessments may be a useful tool for EU BON allowing the different groups to move their developments in line that anticipate the needs that the assessments are likely to face in the near future. Explore the scoping for the thematic assessments (amongst other IPBES documents) here (

Matthew Walpole: EU BON could usefully consider and articulate which parts of the IPBES conceptual framework it can provide information for, as well as thinking about how it connects to regional (European), and global, assessment processes within the IPBES programme of work. Equally, given the importance within IPBES placed upon outreach and communication to decision-makers across multiple sectors, EU BON could usefully consider innovative visualisation approaches for its data products and outputs.

Tim Hirsch: One of the strong themes that has run through this IPBES meeting is the need to incorporate and recognize multiple knowledge systems, including indigenous and traditional knowledge, when carrying out assessments of biodiversity and ecosystem services. There are many challenges and opportunities arising out of this for EU BON and its partners, for example the development of community-based monitoring programmes that can contribute valuable data and information for the science-policy interface, but must be handled with due respect and sensitivity to build trust in participating communities.

Ilse Geijzendorffer: Fast track assessments, need their answers fast! Additionally, transparency of the analysis maybe not appreciated by some regional hubs or Members of the platform. This maybe posing problems for the willingness to use a shared data transfer system. Finally, if 80% of the experts will be nominated by the Members of the Platform, this can pose problems for the willingness of some expert to use transparent analysis methods. This has to be endorsed in the current protocol development.

Christoph Häuser: This remains a largely open question, as IPBES is still much preoccupied with procedural and organizational issues. With the regional approach towards assessments built into IPBES, however, it is already clear that a regional perspective towards biodiversity information and interpretation, such as an integrated European biodiversity data portal, will be a major asset to offer. As IPBES furthermore stresses the incorporation of other forms of knowledge, a focus on linking with and incorporating citizen science initiatives seems a logical follow up for EU BON.

Today, 16/12/2013,  the European Commission announced the launch of a new Pilot on Open Research Data in Horizon 2020, to ensure that valuable information produced by researchers in many EU-funded projects will be shared freely. Researchers in projects participating in the pilot are asked to make the underlying data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications and other scientific information available for use by other researchers, innovative industries and citizens. This will lead to better and more efficient science and improved transparency for citizens and society. It will also contribute to economic growth through open innovation. For 2014-2015, topic areas participating in the Open Research Data Pilot will receive funding of around €3 billion.

The Commission recognises that research data is as important as publications. It therefore announced in 2012 that it would experiment with open access to research data (see IP/12/790). The Pilot on Open Research Data in Horizon 2020 does for scientific information what the Open Data Strategy does for public sector information: it aims to improve and maximise access to and re-use of research data generated by projects for the benefit of society and the economy.

The Pilot involves key areas of Horizon 2020:

  • Future and Emerging Technologies

  • Research infrastructures – part e-Infrastructures

  • Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies – Information and Communication Technologies

  • Societal Challenge: Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy – part Smart cities and communities

  • Societal Challenge: Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw materials – with the exception of topics in the area of raw materials

  • Societal Challenge: Europe in a changing world – inclusive, innovative and reflective Societies

  • Science with and for Society

Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda said "We know that sharing and re-using research data holds huge potential for science, society and the economy. This Pilot is an opportunity to see how different disciplines share data in practice and to understand remaining obstacles."

Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "This pilot is part of our commitment to openness in Horizon 2020. I look forward to seeing the first results, which will be used to help set the course for the future."

Projects may opt out of the pilot to allow for the protection of intellectual property or personal data; in view of security concerns; or should the main objective of their research be compromised by making data openly accessible.

The Pilot will give the Commission a better understanding of what supporting infrastructure is needed and of the impact of limiting factors such as security, privacy or data protection or other reasons for projects opting out of sharing. It will also contribute insights in how best to create incentives for researchers to manage and share their research data.

The Pilot will be monitored throughout Horizon 2020 with a view to developing future Commission policy and EU research funding programmes.

The 2013 International Conference on Open Data in Biodiversity and Ecological Research took place between 20 - 22 Nov 2013, hosted by Academia Sinica in Taipei, Taiwan. With the aim to promote open data in science twelve foreign speakers introduced relevant projects and initiatives in the sphere of biodiversity informatics: AP-BON, DataONE, Ecological Research, EU-BON, Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), Japan Biodiversity Information Facility (JBIF), linked open data, National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), Pensoft, and Thomson Reuters.

Dirk Schmeller (UFZ) and Lyubomir Penev (Pensoft), who presented EU BON at the conference, share their experience in a recent interview:

Lyubomir Penev (Pensoft)

What are the aims and main outcomes from this meeting?

LP: Taiwan has an impressive national policy with regard to data management in biodiversity sciences. The meeting summarised years of effort of Taiwanese scientists and especially of Academia Sinica to integrate data and make them publicly available. It is sufficient to mention that Taiwan has established four national nodes of the largest international biodiversity platforms, that is TaiBIF (of GBIF), TaiCOL (of Catalogue of Lige), TaiEOL (of EOL) and TaiBOL (of Barcode of Life).

Were there any biodiversity data integration models presented at the meeting that can be adopted and implemented in EUBON?

LP: Perhaps not directly, however the impressive amount and quality of work and the accumulated experience of the Taiwanese and Japanese colleagues would certainly be of value for EU BON. In addition, there are well established contacts already between the FP7 project SCALES and the National University of Taiwan which could serve as a stepping stone as well, because two of the SCALES partners participate in EU BON and at the meeting (UFZ and Pensoft).

The interest to the EU BON presentation by Dirk was great. An indicator for that was that more  than 120  EU BON leaflets have been picked up by the participants from the information desk.

Did you discuss any opportunities for partnership with organizations and initiatives from Asia and America, which deal with biodiversity data integration and accessibility?

LP: Yes, there were a lot of discussions how to mobilize and publish biodiversity data and most probably several data publishing projects will appear as a result of the discussions. These pilots could be used for the EU BON goals.

Dirk Schmeller (UFZ)

US National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) has activities similar to those planned by WP4 Link environment to biodiversity: analyses of patterns, processes and trends. Is there something that EU BON can learn from the experience of its American colleagues?

DS: It is important to keep a close link with Brian Wee and NEON, as they have a head start in comparison to EU BON. I am sure that a collaboration would benefit EU BON to work efficiently.

What is your prognosis for the successful establishment of the data publishing model in scholarly literature, and more specifically in spheres such as Ecology, Genetics, Physiology and Paleontology?

DS: Most research is financed by taxpayer money and should become publicly available once the analyses a researchers has intended are completed. I see a huge potential to publish this data in scholarly literature. I, however, see also quite some difficulties to recombine relevant datasets across different sources for further going analyses. I also see difficulties in the willingness of researchers to share data, as in many cases they see these as their own.

Linked Open Data (LOD) is a new and prominent technology to publish and share data on the web. Could you please explain what exactly hides behind this concept, and how could EU BON benefit from it?

LP: The meeting in Taiwan was impressive also in the wide representation of the Resource Description Framework (RDF) technologies in integration of biodiversity data, especially from a group from the National Museum of Japan and the University of Tokyo. RDF and the OWL Web Ontology Language are definitely the way to go if we want to make diverse data sets interoperable; the implementation of RDF in a pilot phase would be of primary importance for the success of EU BON.

Ecological modellers require reliable sources of data for their analysis. Often, these sources are databases, checklists and specimen labels. Yet another rich source is the corpus of biological literature. It is estimated that there are well over 100 million pages of scientific publications and the volume grows every year. Publishing in advanced XML-based journals, such as Zookeys, Phytokeys or the Biodiversity Data Journal is recommended for new data, but what is the solution for legacy texts?

The EU FP7 project pro-iBiosphere has been piloting the mark-up and extraction of biological information from literature, which has been pioneered by Plazi (Agosti & Egloff, 2009). The EU FP7 Coordination and Support Action "pro-iBiosphere" was launched to investigate ways to increase the accessibility of biodiversity data, improve the efficiency of its curation and increase the user base of biodiversity data consumers and applications. The project addresses the technical and semantic interoperability between different forms in which data are published and analyses the sustainability issues related to the maintenance and curation of biodiversity data and derived information and knowledge. It also involves encouraging the biodiversity community to publish biodiversity data in a way that satisfies the technical requirements for an envisioned Open Biodiversity Knowledge Management System.

In order to reach these objectives three pilots for data mark-up and one for interoperability are being conducted (for detailed information on the pilots please see here). The mark-up pilots are evaluating accessibility of data within literature for a wide range of organisms and data types; and ways to facilitate  extraction of biological information from literature, including observations, traits, nomenclature, habitat information and interactions between organisms. For example, one pilot is looking at biogeographic data using the species Chenopodium vulvaria as a subject. In another, trait data is being extracted from literature on tropical mistletoes; while yet others are extracting data from papers on spiders, ants, centipedes, mosses and fungi.

In order to extract these data one can use either "born" digital texts or scanned texts, converted through text capture. These texts are then progressively marked up into XML documents, with tags defining the meaning of the containing text. The degree of mark-up granularity and the choice of textual elements to be marked-up depend on the type of data to be extracted and its granularity in the text. In taxonomically based literature, text is usually divided into the individual "treatments" for each species. Fortunately, most paragraph elements of these texts are in standard formats, for example, separate blocks of text contain the physical description of the organism, details of the distribution and habitat information, often separated with sub-headings.

The pro-iBiosphere pilots have used several methods for mark-up, but the main tool has been the GoldenGate Editor, which combines manual and automated methods to identify key text elements. For example, an algorithm identifies Latin names and then an interface guides the user through the verification of the algorithm’s results. Once marked-up, the XML document can be uploaded to the Plazi document repository. Plazi is a not-for-profit organization devoted to promoting open-access to taxonomic literature. You are free to use the data contained in Plazi’s repository and if you want you can refine the mark-up for your own purposes.

Extracting data from the legacy literature can be expensive. Modern XML based publications have additional advantages of linkages via DOI identifiers, and immediate dissemination to harvesters like EOL or GBIF. Yet, digitisation and mark-up has the possibility to reanimate the data in our publications, making them almost as useful as modern linked publications.

Task 3.4 of EU-BON is to develop tools to prepare, extract and mine published biodiversity literature (led by Plazi - Donat Agosti). For this task Plazi is looking for rich sources of data from the biodiversity literature, particularly where those data can be applied within other EU-BON tasks. For further information please contact Plazi

Agosti, D., & Egloff, W. (2009). Taxonomic information exchange and copyright: the Plazi approach. BMC research notes, 2(1), 53. doi:10.1186/1756-0500-2-53

Quentin Groom (National Botanic Garden, Belgium) & Donat Agosti (Plazi)

Members area

Lost your password?


flag big This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No 308454.