2. Work Undertaken Within the First Phase

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2. Work Undertaken Within the First Phase

The survey consisted of three parts :

  1. a review of existing international and national CATALOGUES OF DATA SOURCES

  2. a review of REDLISTS of species and habitats

  3. the survey of DATA SOURCES

The survey was carried out on the basis of a set of questionnaires (annexes 3, 4 and 5).

 

2.a.  Review of International and National Catalogues of Data Sources

Many initiatives such as catalogues of sources or meta-databases are or have been carried out, or are starting at international or national level;

The MNHN therefore initiated the present project by beginning with a survey of such existing catalogues of data sources to avoid later multiple requests to dataholders and to try to pre-fill (at least, partially) the questionnaire on data availability and accessibility on species, habitats and sites (cf paragraph 2c and annex 5) in order to facilitate the work for the institutions contacted.

 

At international level

The review of data sources carried out at international level served two purposes :

first, to locate data sources at European level (and not at national level) and to be able to contact these European sources; secondly, to be able to get a first idea on the number of national data sources.

Council of Europe (CoE):

In the framework of a seminar held in 1985 in Strasbourg, the Council published the following report: «Catalogue of data banks in the field of nature conservation» (CDSN-INF (85) 2) which reviewed more than 70 databases managed by 15 countries and some ten international projects.

A second questionnaire was sent in 1987 but the results have not been analysed by the CoE. However, Paul Harding (HARDING P.T. and CROFT J.M. 1995) has updated the first list with the collected information.

CONNECT:

In August 1994, the CONNECT network has surveyed databases managed by its member institutes. Nearly 50 databases on species, sites, monitoring or pollutants have been described by 8 organisations from 8 European countries.

DGXI:

In June 1994, a report entitled «Besoins d’informations et tâches à réaliser dans le cadre de la politique de conservation de la nature et du premier programme multiannuel de l’Agence Européenne de l’Environnement (Rapport ULB B4-3101/94/DGXI/000081)» has reviewed 10 European data sources on species.

WCMC:

The World Conservation Monitoring Centre manages a computerised catalogue of data sources linked with the UNEP GRID Meta-database. But, at present, this catalogue describes mainly data sources outside Europe.

Organisations managing data bases at European level have been contacted on the basis of the DGXI report (the most recent report); the WCMC was contacted directly.

In this way, this survey carried out by the MNHN has permitted to locate more than 180 national databases managed by 13 countries and to update information on 13 European and international databases.

There are a number of other interesting initiatives either involving surveys of data sources or development of networks. Such further contacts to be explored are:

The Convention on Biological Diversity:

At the request of Member States, wishing to have a survey of sources, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1994 sent a questionnaire on existing databases of relevance to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

ETC/NC has had some preliminary contacts with the Secretariat concerning possibilites for collabration on data source information related to Europe. Such collaboration should be seen as a future possible general collaboration between EEA and the Headquarters of the Convention.

Systematic Agenda 2000:

This world-wide initiative is currently developing a European plan linking systematic research and knowledge to Biodiversity conservation. As a result of a meeting held May 1995, several actions have been defined; one of them was to promote data bases on systematic expertise and collections.

It is important to follow closely this project which could supply interesting information on data sources.

UNEP-INFOTERRA:

This information system manages an International Directory of Sources which surveys more than 7000 sources of information on over 1000 environmental subjects. The sources are located in governmental institutions, ministries and documentation centres, research institutes, universities, non-governmental and international organisations, United Nation agencies and private consultant companies (WCMC, 1994).

At national level

A questionnaire on existing Catalogues of Data Sources related to the field of nature was sent by ETC/NC in March 1995 (cf annex 3) to the 17 member countries of the Agency through the National Focal Points (NFP) or the National Reference Centres on Nature (NRC). The countries were also asked to supply a copy of the catalogue if it existed.


Results of the ETC/NC questionnaire on Catalogues of Data Sources

By 15. October 1995 11 countries had replied :

  • Finland and France supplied a catalogue on the whole environmental field

  • Austria and Denmark had some initiatives more oriented on species and protected areas (only Austria) but they were not able to supply a catalogue for technical reasons. Austria’s catalogue was integrated in a more general project from where it was not possible to extract information on Nature. The one from Denmark was integrated in the CONNECT initiative.

  • Greece and Ireland had two on-going projects.

  • The Netherlands did not supply its catalogue but results from the ECNC questionnaire sent in January 1995 have been used.

  • Norway and Sweden had no catalogue.

  • UK tried an extraction form the computerised catalogue (prepared on behalf of the Co-ordinating Commission for Biological Recording) but was met with problems due to data transfer.

Due to these results, it was not possible to pre-fill the ETC/NC questionnaire describing data sources (cf paragraph 2c and annex 5) as it was initially planned to do, in order to facilitate the work of NFPs or NRCs.

Table 1 : Results of the questionnaire on Catalogues of Data Sources

 

Catalogue (y/n)

Beginning

Updating
periodicity

Comments

Austria

species
protected areas

1994
1987

twice a year

within the framework of the Federal law for freedom of information

Belgium(*)

       

Denmark

species

1994

  in the framework of the international CONNECT initiative managed by Institute of Terrestrial Ecology (UK)

Finland

Y

1990

2e ed. in 1995

Environmental Monitoring Programmes in Finland

France

Y

1993

2e ed. in 1996

Catalogue des Sources de Données de l’Institut Français de l’Environnement (IFEN) 1994

Germany

national
Niedersächsen
Baden-Württemberg
Sachsen-Anhalt

1993
1991
1993
1993

yearly
regularly

 

Greece

on-going

1995

yearly

 

Iceland (*)

       

Ireland

on-going

     

Italy (*)

 

     

Luxemb. (*)

 

     

Netherlands

Y

1988

last ed. 1994

 

Norway

N

     

Portugal (*)

 

     

Spain (*)

 

     

Sweden

N

     

UK

Y

1992

  Co-ordinating Commission Biological Recording Database

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(*) no answer

2.b. Review of Redlists

A questionnaire on species and habitat redlists was sent out in March 1995 (cf annex 4) to the 17 member countries of the Agency through the NFP or NRC on Nature.

This inventory allowed to depict a state-of-the-art on the existing or on-going redlists. It should be completed with information held by WCMC.

11 countries replied.

Table 2 : Results of the questionnaire on REDLISTS

 

Fauna Redlist

Flora Redlist

Habitats Redlist

Austria

1990

1996

1996/97

Belgium (*)

     

Denmark

1991
revised & improved in 1996

1991
revised & improved in 1996

 

Finland

1991

1991

 

France

1994

1995

 

Germany

1994

1995

1994

Greece

1992

1996

 

Iceland (*)

     

Ireland

yes

?

 

Italy (*)

     

Luxembourg (*)

     

Netherlands

1994-95

1989-1992

 

Norway

1992

1992

 

Portugal (*)

     

Spain

1992

   

Sweden

1992-1993

1991

 

UK

1995

1977-1992
planned for 1996

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(*) no answer

2.c.  Availability and Accessibility of Data Sources

Sending out the ETC/NC questionnaire

After this followed a questionnaire concerning actual sources of data, data availability and accessibility. It was sent out by the ETC/NC in May 1995 (cf annex 5) to the 17 member countries of the Agency through the NFP or NRC on Nature.

This questionnaire was organised in three parts taking into account the three main elements of Nature Conservation : species, habitats and sites. It had been developed on the basis of the analysis of existing questionnaires from different countries and in particularly, the questionnaire used by the Co-ordinating Commission Biological Recording (UK).

The questionnaire was sent in paper form but a floppy disk under Word 6.0 format was also provided, mostly to reduce the volume of paper rather than for entering the data (there was no time and no money to develop an input module).


Replies from NFPs

The main problems concerned :

  • difficulties in collection of information in the countries where information is decentralised

  • the collection meant extra work

  • the deadline was seen as short

Only 4 countries returned the questionnaires on floppy disks. 2 countries used the Word file but returned the answers on paper.

13 countries replied with a fully completed questionnaire, between 1st July and 15th October 1995. Other answers were provided after this date and have therefore not been fully integrated in the analysis carried out under task MN1.3.

The questionnaire was sent again to Iceland in September following the announcement of new contacts (NFP and NRC)

Italy informed in November that questionnaires were waited from local organisations.

Descriptions of European Atlases and WCMC bases have also been taken into account as has the IUCN Law Center databases in Bonn.


Input of data

Data input has been made with a Microsoft Access application developed by the ETC/NC. Captured data have been returned to the countries for validation. So far only five countries have validated data and made a few modifications (DK, FI, GR, NO, SE).

The relational structure (cf annex 2) of the ETC/NC database allowed production of several results for this report (figures and maps). It has been organised in a easy way to facilitate data transfer to the future Catalogue of Data Sources of the EEA.


Accuracy of the results

Most of the questionnaires were quite well filled; some countries have added more information than asked (i.e. list of species names to which some other names have been added manually by some countries).

Among 161 databases dealing with species, the family list for which the number of species has been taken into account has been filled in 94 cases. The Species list for the Habitats Directive and Bern Convention has been filled in 101 cases.

The results also showed, that the habitat typology proposed by the questionnaire was not detailed enough to allow a good analysis. The questions on record numbers and data volume were ambiguous, and the answers consequently very weak.

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