[tdwg] FW: [Conservation Commons] Biodiversity standards project aims for better government and business decisions

Lee Belbin leebel at netspace.net.au
Wed May 30 03:23:05 CEST 2007

Dear Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) list members
I thought the following post to the Conservation Commons list should be of
broad interest. Éamonn O Tuama of GBIF and I (representing TDWG) attended
the first of the IUCN-OASIS meeting in Gland last month (see
A second meeting hosted by Conservation International in Arlington is
planned for June 26 . Éamonn and I plan to attend. I've made the suggestion
to Tom Hammond of IUCN that a key requirement before this meeting is a set
of use-cases. Recent initiatives on interoperability standards for
biodiversity data such as this one in IUCN, EoL and the ILTER are generating
a healthy pressure for TDWG to have quality packaged solutions that address
client needs.
I'm keen to hear any other comments from list members about key issues that
should be presented or positions taken. 

Lee Belbin
Manager, TDWG Infrastructure Project
Email: lee at tdwg.org
Phone: +61(0)419 374 133 



From: Chucri Sayegh [mailto:chucri.sayegh at iucn.org] 
Sent: Wednesday, 30 May 2007 12:24 AM
To: biod_commons at indaba.iucn.org
Subject: [Conservation Commons] Biodiversity standards project aims for
better government and business decisions 

source : http://www.ictstandardization.com/news/200705/article20070564.html
Biodiversity standards project aims for better government and business

An IUCN/OASIS biodiversity project aims to better tap the vast sea of
statistical data on endangered species and protected areas for better
information sharing and decisions by business and government.  

One of the huge challenges in biodiversity conservation is managing the vast
quantities of data generated so people can use it, said Tom Hammond, senior
program advisor at The World Conservation Union (IUCN).  Much biodiversity
data is either unavailable or not easily accessible because of fragmentation
of data, lack of access or interoperability, IUCN said.

The US Geological Survey’s National Biodiversity Information Infrastructure
(NBII) program is essentially tackling domestically, the same questions that
the IUCN/OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information
Standards) partnership is at the international level, “trying to integrate
all the biodiversity data and information generated at county level and
federally, into one common [information] infrastructure,” Hammond said:
“NBII is part of this process.”  Canada and other of IUCN's 80 member
countries are essentially trying to do the same thing, Hammond said.  Many
initiatives to improve access to and leveraging of biodiversity data are
taking place in governments, scientific and research organizations and in
the private sector, Hammond said: “Very few of these initiatives are talking
to each other."

Biodiversity information could be accessed in common ways no matter where
the information is being maintained, Patrick Gannon, president and CEO of
OASIS said: “Data gets managed wherever it’s best gathered and managed.”
Organizations that need the data shouldn’t need multiple kinds of interfaces
to access it, Gannon said.  “This is a common refrain that many,
particularly companies in the resource sector – oil and gas, mining,
forests, agriculture – many companies are beginning to step up and say,”
they need to make better, more informed decisions about where they conduct
their business on the ground, Hammond said.  

Seventy-six organizations have committed to open access to biodiversity data
by signing up to a global partnership called the Conservation Commons,
Hammond said.  They are conservation groups, scientific organizations,
government agencies like NASA and NBII, companies like Rio Tinto, Shell and
Chevron, Hammond said: “From a private sector company’s point of view,
that’s fairly significant because that gets down to issues of disclosure.
Many of these companies generate their own data when it comes to their field
operations and these companies have formally signed up to say they will make
available the data that they generate for whatever field operations they’re
involved in." 

Geospatial approaches will be “the platform upon which we’re going to
generate a lot of this work,” because the data is from some geographic place
on the planet, Hammond said: “Essentially what we’re doing is identifying
the minimum standards we need so we can at least share data.” The work
builds on open standards from the Open Geospatial Consortium, global and
regional species taxonomy standards, on-line publishing and referencing,
Service Oriented Architectures and others, IUCN said. The work of a group
called Biodiversity Information Standards will also be involved.  

The first step in the process will be identifying what standards work is out
there that can be leveraged and what’s missing, Hammond said: “There’s a
minimum list of criteria that you absolutely have to have access to” if
you’re a CEO or a director of a government ministry making a decision.
Endangered species, protected areas, key biodiversity areas outside of
protected areas, critical ecosystems for the generation of ecosystem goods
and services like water, fiber, maintaining soils and non-timber forest
products “is a very short list of some very key ecosystem and biodiversity
elements that we would like to make sure that anyone would have access to,”
Hammond said.  A June meeting in Arlington, Virginia (USA) will begin to
tackle the issues. There will be 3 major thrusts: 1) Species; 2) Habitat; 3)
Biodiversity conservation vocabulary, which deals with scientific

OASIS and IUCN have been working together for about a year, Gannon said.
OASIS will form a Biodiversity Conservation Member Section to work with
IUCN’s Biodiversity Conservation Standards initiative and the Conservation
Commons, IUCN said.   An OASIS steering committee will identify various data
standards committees and the order that the work progresses.


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