Biodiversity Operating Capacity
Protected Areas (PAs) play an essential role in conservation programs and in the sustainable use of natural resources. The African Protected Areas Assessment Tool (APAAT) is an online information system developed for decision makers to help them assess the state of protected areas in Africa and prioritize them according to biodiversity values and threats when allocating funds.
The web site currently contains information on 741 PAs, across 50 countries, and includes information on around 1600 species and a wide range of climatic, environmental and socio-economic data. This information is utilised to compute six indicators for each protected area, quantifying its value in regard to amphibian, bird and mammal species diversity, irreplaceability of habitat, and threats from anthropogenic activities. These indicators can be further summarised to show how each PA performs for each indicator, in comparison to other protected areas from the same country or ecoregion.
The architecture of the system and the large variety of data types and sources involved make maintenance and potential developments of the web site difficult. Future improvements and innovations of the system depend largely on its evolution into an interoperable web service capable of exchanging a large variety of data coming from different sources.
In the framework of the EuroGEOSS project, the project partners of Work Package 4 will port the concepts developed in the APAAT to a Service Oriented Architecture. The result of this effort should lead to a Digital Observatory for Protected Areas (DOPA) as described in the figure.
The DOPA will be designed to allow the worldwide monitoring of protected areas by automatically processing data obtained through various web services. By using standard interoperable data formats, the outputs of the system should allow further use for modelling purposes. The advanced modelling capability of the system from multi-scale heterogeneous data sources will be illustrated through e-Habitat, a web processing service for modelling habitats as well as for assessing their irreplaceability. The inter-disciplinary interoperability of e-Habitat will allow coupling with other model services, including climate change web services that enable the biodiversity observatory to assess possible impacts of these changes on habitats and contribute a useful component for ecological forecasting.
The use of open standards for spatial data and of open source programming languages for the development of the core functionalities of the system should encourage the participation of the scientific community beyong the current partnerships and favour the sharing of such an observatory which could be installed at any other location.
Contact : Grégoire DUBOIS (European Commission - DG Joint Research Center, Global Environment Monitoring Unit)