This is the report of a project to define an integrated multimedia resource package for biodiversity conservation. This Definition Phase project would be followed by an Implementation Phase project that would produce the final product for the market.
In its final form, the product is intended to serve the needs of the general public and professionals for comprehensive information on biological conservation, also making available sources of information that are currently difficult or expensive to access.
The major challenges of the Definition Phase were to:
- Prove the feasibility of integrating a number of disparate datasets, designed and maintained with differing constraints and held in different European locations;
- Determine the structural framework of the product, the delivery medium(s) and other essential design considerations;
- Develop an appreciation of the user profile;
- Identify meaningful multimedia potentials of relevance to users;
- Identify a market for the product and develop preliminary marketing strategies.
The Definition Phase project was successful in creating a prototype of the information product, in WWW and CD-ROM formats, comprising datasets of:
- Animal and plant species of potential conservation concern; and
- Geographic areas of conservation significance;
Set within a hyperlinked information context of:
- Global environmental threats and concerns (‘world problems’);
- Conservation strategies (including international treaties and agreements);
- Action plans for the conservation of species, habitats and ecosystems;
- Taxonomic tree structures of species;
- Bibliographic references.
The envisaged product aims to integrate previously unrelated data and make it available in simple-to-use formats. It is intended to help policy-makers, and other professional and non-professional users, understand the links between the threats to biodiversity and the various responses society is making to counter the impact of both on the conservation of species and ecosystems.
The product would directly serve the programme objectives of several pan-European activities, including ‘state of the environment’ studies, Natura 2000, and The Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy (Council of Europe 1996). It addresses the requirement for inter-sectoral information transfer called for by Agenda 21 and complementary regional agendas in Europe, such as the Environmental Programme for Europe (1995, UNECE/CEP/25). It supports the meeting of commitments to relevant international agreements to which the European Union is party, such as the Bern Convention, Bonn Convention and Ramsar Convention, the Caracas Action Plan and the Global Biodiversity Strategy.
The proposed product would also assist the objective of the upcoming Community programme Environment in Developing Countries. The programme recognizes the Community's role in the promotion of measures at international level to deal with regional or world-wide environmental problems; also that cooperation programmes carried out in partnership with developing countries are sensitive to the environment, particularly in the areas of: (1) preserving biological diversity through the conservation of the ecosystems and habitats necessary to maintain diversity of species and the survival of endangered species; (2) sustainable management of marine ecosystems; and (3) improved practices for soil conservation ... forest protection and the fight against desertification.