UKOT Biodiversity data access project.

 

Project Aim

  • To consider the options and opportunities for improved access to OT ‘core’ biodiversity data by working with  international (including UK) organisations and OTs to identify and address barriers to access where they exist

 

The project

  • A brief background context for the project is provided here. More detailed information about the project is available in the (draft) project outline document.

 

Background Questionnaire.

  • A Background Questionnaire has been created to be completed by all individuals/organisations who are interested in being involved in the project.

 

Background and UK Policy Drivers

  • The UK Government’s 2012 Overseas Territories White Paper ‘Security, Success and Sustainability’ set out that Territory Governments are constitutionally responsible for conserving biodiversity and for developing appropriate, applicable and affordable environmental policies, legislation and standards, with the  UK Government providing technical advice and expertise to enable the Territories to meet their environmental obligations.
  • It is widely recognised that lack of data and/or lack of access to data is a challenge and one of the five strategic priorities for the UK Government’s support for biodiversity conservation in the Overseas Territories set out in the UK’s Overseas Territories Biodiversity strategy is focussed on data i.e. obtaining data on the location and status of biodiversity interests and the human activities affecting biodiversity to inform the preparation of policies and management plans (including baseline survey and subsequent monitoring).

 

Overseas Territories context

Data gaps, data management and/or access to data have been identified by OT personnel as an issue that needs to be addressed.  Recent examples of where this has been highlighted include:

  • In the 2013 review of progress on the implementation of the UK Overseas Territories Biodiversity Strategy, individual territories highlighted their specific data management/access requirements this included data availability and access.
  • In the 2013 Falkland Islands environmental Mainstreaming report, one of the key conclusions identified data, and data access as a high priority action i.e. obtain key baseline data on the environment(e.g. on where ecosystems / habitats are, and what ecosystem services they provide);
  • In  2014  an OT CITES meeting held at Kew in London, management of data was seen as a key requirement
  •  In the 2014 South Atlantic Overseas Territories Regional Workshop held on Ascension Island, having well-managed data in a system that was sustainable over a long period of time was a key message.

 

What is already in place.

There are a number of initiatives that have been implemented at either a territory level, or a cross territory level that attempt to collect, collate and manage biodiversity data. Some of these work efficiently and effectively, some face challenges, and others are still to be initiated. Here are some examples:

  • Territory based systems: Data management systems have been effectively set up in a number of overseas territories·        
  • Regional systems: A regional system the (FCO-funded, JNCC-managed, SAERI-implemented) South Atlantic Regional Information Management Centre is a pilot project that is attempting to identify and address barriers to data access in the South Atlantic Region. This includes training and capacity building, staffing, establishing data management protocols, research permits, purchasing hardware and software, etc.
  •  Cross territory systems: UK organisations have set up systems to manage cross territory data for example
  •  British Antarctic Survey – manages data for South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the British Antarctic Territory.
  • Royal Botanical Gardens Kew uses its in-house Brahms to manage Overseas Territories Plant data
  • A recent project funded by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and implemented by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) attempted to compile species lists for most of the UK’s OTs.

 

JNCC input into data management to date.

To date,  JNCC has supported a number of initiatives to support the development of data management and data access in the UKOTs.