News: EU launch digital encyclopaedic project on living species

From Bulletin Quotidien Europe No.9423, 10 May 2007

In the interest of biodiversity, for which there is an urgent need to stem the decline, the EU will be contributing to the global effort to create in the next ten years, a global scientific information system on species of fauna and flora that live on earth’s surface.

At the official launch in Washington on 9 may, the European Commission announced that this digital encyclopaedic project on living species aimed to include, in around 300 million pages, all known species, and to update available data on how they live, how they grow, their fertility, their tolerance to the environment, their interaction, their genetic characteristic etc.

“The Earth’s biodiversity is a fragile resource. The more we know about it, the better we can protect it. Linking up with researchers within Europe and across the world will increase our understanding of the species with which we share the Earth and, hopefully, improve our management of it,” said European Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik in a press release.

The EU will work on this global project with American, Australian, Brazilian, Indian and South African scientists. European funs will be used to bring together data and create a common information system, called SpeciesBase. Data, which are available to the public, will be supplemented with photos and maps. The German Leibnitz Institute IFM-GEOMAR will coordinate the project. The European contribution will be built on the successful experience of the Fishbase database: The Catalogue of Life (www.sp200.org), The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (www.gbif.org), Fauna Europea (www.faunaeur.org) and Euro+Med Plantbase (www.euromed.org.uk).

The project for a global digital encyclopaedia of living species follows on from the G8 Environemnt Ministers meeting in Potsdam in march, which focused its discussions on the proctetion of biodiversity by 2010. The Commission highlights the importance of this biodiversity conservation tool for researchers, political decision makers, land managers, farmers and conservationists and the public in general.



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