The Digital Observatory for Protected Areas (DOPA) is a biodiversity information system that functions as an assessment, monitoring and forecasting tool for biodiversity. It is developed as a set of interoperable web services by the IES in collaboration with other international organisations, including the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, the World Conservation Monitoring Centre of the United Nations (UN) Environment Programme, Birdlife International and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
DOPA was developed in response to the European Parliament’s call to support the ambitious Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) mission for 2020: to halt the loss of biodiversity and to share the values and benefits of biodiversity and ecosystem services equitably. Designed to assess the state of and pressures on protected areas on a global scale and to prioritise protected areas according to their biodiversity and the pressures to which they are exposed, DOPA supports decision making and fund allocation processes.
The loss of global biodiversity is a growing and worrying phenomenon. According to the 2020 objectives fixed for the 193 countries that participated in the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which was held in Nagoya, Japan, in October 2010, at least 17% of the Earth’s surface and continental waters and 10% of coastal and marine areas should be protected. Currently only 12% of the Earth’s surface is protected, 6% of coastal waters and 0.5% of oceans. According to the UN, the current 13,000 protected areas are insufficient to ensure the survival of the Earth’s biodiversity.
One of the main instruments for combating this threat to the life of our planet is the creation of protected areas. DOPA is designed to facilitate this objective, by providing decision makers with the most relevant, reliable and up-to-date scientific information obtained from ground and space observations.
Given the huge amount of information potentially available, the processes of collecting, preparing and integrating the data required to compute biodiversity indicators needs to be carefully planned and executed. DOPA adopts the main recommendations of many international initiatives (including GEOSS, the Global Earth Observation System of Systems) to better coordinate efforts to improve and streamline information systems.
Through DOPA, interoperable data are exchanged between web services allowing for the automatic update of various information systems. Its design (using open standards for spatial data and open source programming languages) is specially conceived to facilitate the participation of and use by the global scientific community. DOPA’s architecture enables a broad range of users to develop their own applications from the information produced by its various web services. An example highlighting the benefits of such an architecture is eHabitat, a modelling service which can easily be chained with other models. For example, eHabitat can be linked with climate change models for assessing the shifting of biomes in protected areas according to various climate change scenarios.
In summary, DOPA is conceived to be tailored to anyone’s need, from the park manager to the modeller assessing the impact of climate on species distributions. Launched in October 2010 on the occasion of the CBD COP10 in Nagoya, Japan, DOPA will see its range of services growing further with the increasing availability of data and models across the various institutions dealing with environmental issues.
Grégoire Dubois - Tel: +39-0332-786360 E-mail: gregoire.dubois(at)jrc.ec.europa.eu