Spatial nature conservation data includes information such as the boundaries of legally Protected Sites, the distribution of species, and the extent of habitats and biogeographical areas. Traditionally such data have been regarded as the preserve of state level conservation agencies and as such have often been seen as inaccessible by other stakeholders. However, several factors have generated the need for interoperable, accessible and harmonised spatial datasets across all themes (including nature conservation themes) for the EU. The INSPIRE Directive (http://inspire.jrc.ec.europa.eu/) is designed to address this issue by developing a Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) for the EU. The Nature-SDIplus (http://www.nature-sdi.eu/) project, building on earlier work by Nature-GIS (http://www.gisig.it/nature-gis/), has analysed Protected Sites datasets from 15 European countries in order to assess the current levels of compatibility with each other, accessibility to external stakeholders and compliance with the EU standards, as outlined by the INSPIRE Data Specification_PS_v2.0 (http://inspire.jrc.ec.europa.eu/). This paper examines the results of this analysis with particular regard to the issue of utility of nature conservation science within society. It concludes that there is a great deal of work still required in order to bring all European spatial Protected Sites data up to the exacting standards of the INSPIRE Directive, but if this is achieved then a valuable resource for trans-boundary, ecosystem-oriented conservation and management will become available across Europe.
|Keywords:||GIS, SDI, INSPIRE, Nature Conservation, Protected Sites, Compliance, Compatibility, Accessibility|
Research Fellow, Department of Geography & Environment, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
Senior Lecturer, CMCZM, Department of Geography & Environment, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK