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Global  Biodiversity  Information  Facility  
Nodes Steering Group Mid-Term Meeting 2012 1. General update on the status of Participants in the region
European GBIF participants are doing well in general. The number of mobilised records is growing, technological investments do increase, cooperation and joint actions are moving along and there seems to be dedication and commitment to the GBIF mission. However, these advances very much seem to be carried by a limited group of national Nodes (50%), other national Nodes do participate but are struggling because of a lack of resources (30%), some other national Nodes simply have difficulties to make true progress and/or are difficult to contact (20%). Also worrisome is that the number of national participants in Europe is not increasing and this means that geographically the GBIF Nodes only cover part of Europe and consequently have limited (potential) impact on pan-European issues dealing with biodiversity. Some of the organisations that are part of GBIF and based in Europe are actively involved in regional GBIF activities but the majority is not and most are difficult to reach. This is partly due to the unclear role of the organisations at the European level. European GBIF Nodes differ in size, composition, available resources, background and focus and occupy different niches in their respective national biodiversity landscapes. Consequently close collaboration is not always possible. However, there is a common sense that jointly showcasing the benefits of using the GBIF infrastructure and data at the regional level is needed and progress is being made to achieve this goal. F&F: There are 49 European countries, 22 are member of GBIF, 21 countries publish data. There are 17 GBIF organisations based in the European region, about 10 organisations publish data. Together European GBIF participants publish about 50% of the current GBIF data. 2. Plans regarding the organisation of regional Nodes Meetings in 2012
A regional European meeting was organised from 27 to 29 March in Berlin, kindly hosted by GBIF Germany. At this date (16/04/2012) the full workshop report is not completed and verified by the participants yet. Details on the meeting can be found on the dedicated pages of the GBIF Germany website: All together a total of 55 participants joined the meeting. Participants originated from the GBIF secretariat, 13 European national GBIF Nodes and 3 organizations, observers from Italy joined the meeting and there were invited speakers from the European FP71 BioFresh2 project (freshwater biodiversity), the European Environment Agency3 (this organisation is actually a participant in the GBIF network), the European ESFRI4 LifeWatch5 project, and the European FP7 projects BioVeL6 (data workflows) / PESI7 (taxonomic names architecture). The external parties were invited to either discuss how they could use the Global  Biodiversity  Information  Facility  
 GBIF infrastructure and data for their own purposes or to discuss how the European GBIF Nodes could benefit from their activities. 3. Collaborative activities between Participants in the region
There are several EU funded projects (BioVel, OpenUp!8, etc.) where, amongst others, Nodes collaborate, but bi- or multilateral regional Node collaborations are limited so far. There have been some joint training sessions and Nodes do inform and invite other Nodes when workshops are being organised but these activities are usually driven by one Node only. Most GBIF mentoring projects in which European GBIF Nodes participate, are projects with Nodes from other regions rather than mentoring projects within Europe. However, the last regional Nodes meeting (March 2012) resulted in an action plan to increase European Nodes collaboration around the theme of (freshwater) invasive species. Tasks were being divided, targets set and an inventory made to see what will be needed from the GBIF infrastructure and what will be contributed to the GBIF Work Programme. The development of the Nodes Portal Toolkit (NPT) will be incorporated in this thematic collaborative approach. This effort will be built on the cooperation with the European BioFresh ( project, this cooperation was already agreed upon at the 2011 European regional Nodes meeting in Paris. At the 2012 regional meeting some Nodes also expressed their intention to start collaboration on themes such as IPT promotion and support in Europe, the use of identifiers, development of DarwinCore extensions, etc. However, for many of these issue the majority of the Nodes thought there was no need yet for an additional European dimension next to the existing GBIF activities/services. 4. New regionally based informatics developments by Participants in the
Most informatics developments by European GBIF Nodes are either focusing at the national data Nodes or useful for the entire international GBIF community. A good example of the latter one is the new Biodiversity Data Quality hub from GBIF Spain (, others are the recent BioCASE based applications from GBIF Germany such as reBiND ( or the freely available data capture and data cleaning applications from the UK’s National Biodiversity Network ( Regionally based informatics developments in which the GBIF secretariat or the European GBIF Nodes are involved are LifeWatch, OpenUp! and BioVeL, to name a few, but these projects are not strictly related to GBIF. The planned thematic project on invasive (freshwater) species will include informatics developments specific for the European region. Global  Biodiversity  Information  Facility  
5. Regional data mobilisation activities, targets and strategies in the region
As mentioned in section 3 the European GBIF Nodes have agreed to spend a part of their resources on a thematic project dealing with (freshwater) invasive species in Europe, and, as it concerns invasive species, there is obviously also a global dimension. This effort will be built on the already existing cooperation with the European BioFresh project. It depends on the first inventories whether the focus will be on just freshwater invasive species or freshwater invasive species as a subset of European invasive species, or a subset of European freshwater species. A preliminary division of the tasks has been made, including an indication of the responsible Nodes and a timeline. o A short vision paper (what, why, for whom, …) for communication purposes o Report formulating the analytical needs for the GBIF data and embedding this initiative in the relevant EU policies, together with the BioFresh team o Inventory and application of the needed data quality tools and procedures o Application of the NPT as a thematic (data) portal for the project o Joint efforts and coordination on the mobilisation of data, metadata, and checklists on freshwater invasive species o Analysis and dissemination of the project Note: this is a preliminary set-up of this initiative; currently the planning is being fine-tuned. Apart from the agreed freshwater initiative an inventory of specific data mobilisation activities and plans at the level of individual participants is currently in the making, based on a small survey and the Nodes presentations from the regional meeting in March. Global  Biodiversity  Information  Facility  
6. Regional priorities from the 2012-2013 GBIF Work Programme activities
At previous regional meetings the European GBIF community ranked their, mostly technical, priorities and these priorities were communicated with the GBIF secretariat directly or through the NSG. It is very satisfying to notice that a significant number of priorities and requests have been translated into deliverables of the 2012-2013 GBIF Work Programme. However, obviously the European Nodes still have their needs and preferences when it comes to the implementation of the GBIF Work Programme. Below are briefly summarised the sections of the GBIF WP that are considered to be most relevant and urgent. In general:
WP section 1: 1.2
Quality: Enhance fitness for use
Data quality, and specifically the tools and procedures to detect, label and improve the
quality of GBIF data, always had a high priority within the European GBIF community and
this is still the situation today. Focus should preferably be on the directly visible
mechanism such as data annotation and data quality reporting through the GBIF data
portal. (section 2 WP 4.2.1 & 4.3.1)
WP section 1: 2.1
Expand the GBIF distributed infrastructure
a) With regards to the IPT: European Nodes are keen to use and rollout the IPT. Nodes
seek the confirmation that the IPT will be enhanced, improved and continuously supported
by the secretariat’s ICT staff, i.e. the IPT will be a fundament where Nodes can build on
for a long time. The IPT is not entirely fit to handle a large amount of metadata records,
as some European Nodes experienced. Nodes would like to provide input and support when
tackling this issue in the further IPT development. (section 2 WP 1.2.1)
e) European Nodes will actively support and deploy the Nodes Portal Toolkit (NPT). This is
a section, however, where close communication with the GBIF secretariat is needed. As an
element of the GBIF work plan driven by mainly the participants, continuing support and
development might not always be possible and this could jeopardize the NPT development
and also requires careful expectation management within the GBIF community. (section 2
WP 2.2.1, 2.2.2 & 2.2.3)
h) Further enhancing the functionality and performance of the GBIF Data Portal. The
portal is GBIF’s public face towards the data providing and data using community and
therefore of great importance. Improvement of the portal has high priority. It is important
that the Nodes community should be enabled to provide feedback during the planned
improvements, as Nodes usually know quite well what the needs and expectations are
within their national or thematic biodiversity communities. (section 2 WP 4.2.1)
With regards to the portal and infrastructure the European Nodes would like to underline
that the proper structuring, standardisation and visualisation of metadata is extremely
Global  Biodiversity  Information  Facility  
 important. With increasing volumes of primary data, more focus on the quality of data and metadata being used in decisions on the digitisation of primary data, it is crucial to have these metadata clearly searchable and accessible online in the GBIF portal and/or the GBIF metadata catalogue. This does not only concern the technical aspects but also the more scientific/theoretical metadata issues such as relations between size of a dataset and metadata quality and the KOS9 aspects. A general remark on the GBIF infrastructure is that the European Nodes have difficulties with the appearance and disappearance of infrastructural elements in the GBIF Work Programme and the related discussions and decisions, or rather the absence of clear discussions and decisions. Typical example is the Harvesting and Indexing Toolkit (HIT). Once quite prominently advertised as a critical element in the (new) GBIF infrastructure, and actually labelled as top priority by the European GBIF Nodes at their regional meeting in 2011. At this moment the HIT has been launched but is not being promoted. Support will not be provided and no further HIT development has been planned. The principal discussion whether GBIF indexing should be done in a distributed manner or centrally has passed without clear consultation of the Nodes (at least that is the impression at this moment). Translating the remark above; priority for the European Nodes is to: WP section 1: 2.2 Improve standards and interoperability
Documenting the GBIF systems architecture as an aid to integration and expansion
(section 2 WP 4.1.1)
WP section 1: 3.3
Participation was, is and will remain an issue of importance to the European GBIF Nodes.
For pan-European biodiversity projects, for decision support at the European level, for
bringing in new data, expertise and resources; participation needs to increase. European
Nodes seeking active participation with the secretariat on this issue (section 2 WP 3.3.1)
Priorities for specific (European) activities:
At this point the needs for the collaborative Nodes initiative on freshwater invasive species have not been worked out in detail. It can be anticipated that specifically elements dealing with the dataflow(s) in GBIF such as the inclusion of DwC extensions in the indexing procedures, adaptations of the GBIF web services, etc. will be relevant. Global  Biodiversity  Information  Facility  
7. Strategies for regional collaboration
A thematic showcase project as described in section 5, chosen and agreed upon by all the regional Nodes, accommodates all the elements for a good regional strategy: o Clear communication of the GBIF mission, to the in- and outside community o Embedding the GBIF infrastructure and activities in regional themes and policies o Clear common goals for content, infrastructure and participation o Division of tasks, building on, and enhancing, Node specialisations o Nodes still have the space/freedom to follow their own specific plans and projects 8. Any regionally identified barriers to the functioning of your regional sub-
committee and suggestions for overcoming these
The European GBIF community is still struggling to find a proper communication, joint working and dissemination platform. The GBIF community site is a social networking platform and indeed fulfils these needs but for the more advanced collaborative work it is not being used. Setting-up such a regional collaborative platform, and coordinating this, is quite a burden for a single Node as we are speaking about the establishment of a decent, safe and sustainable long term facility demanding maintenance and development. This issue should be discussed with the GBIF secretariat again as part of the de-centralisation strategy but certainly also in relation to PR and outreach issues.                                                                                                                           1 European Commission Seventh Framework Programme 4 European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures 9  Knowledge Organization Systems (i.e. vocabularies, thesauri, ontologies)  


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