Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics

European cooperation boosts digital biodiversity research

Conference at the UvA about new research infrastructure

22 January 2011

On Wednesday 19 January 2011, the University of Amsterdam hosted the conference featuring the official kick-off of the construction of a European Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research Infrastructure called LifeWatch.

On Wednesday 19 January 2011, the University of Amsterdam hosted the conference featuring the official kick-off of the construction of a European Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research Infrastructure called LifeWatch.

The core business of LifeWatch is to setup interconnected digital facilities all over Europa that give researchers unprecedented possibilities for groundbreaking studies in the area of biodiversity, ecosystems and related subjects e.g. about climate, water management and spatial planning.

After a three year preparatory phase, during the conference held on 19 January representatives from the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Romania and Hungary signed a Memorandum of Understanding that paves the way for the realisation of the LifeWatch research infrastructure. As such these five countries are now the ‘founding fathers’ of the European infrastructure. Four other European countries signed a Memorandum of Intent, in which they pledge their support for LifeWatch.

In The Netherlands, LifeWatch is led by Prof. dr. Peter van Tienderen, Director of the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) of the UvA. Together with other Dutch parties he signed a Memorandum of Understanding pledging a joint Dutch contribution to LifeWatch. In addition to IBED, these Dutch participants comprise several other universities and research institutions in the area of biology/biodiversity research (NIOO, NIOZ, NCB Naturalis), and in the area of eSciences (CWI, SARA, e-Science Research Center, DANS, BigGrid). As well as several other parties active in this field of research including NLBIF, ‘Gegevensautoriteit Natuur (GaN) and KWR Watercylce Research.

Excellent research requires smart data storage and analysis

Three elements intersect in LifeWatch. Firstly, the development of increasingly advanced systems for analysis and measurements warrant new, smart ways to analyze and process data. Secondly, a lot of excellent research is performed in Europe, but an integrated system to store the information yielded by this research in such a way as to be accessible for use by others is lacking to date. This leads to an enormous waste of knowledge and information. Thirdly, we increasingly ask ourselves the question how we should plan our environment in a way that safeguards vital ecosystem services (food, clean water, adequate space to work and life) while at the same time meeting international biodiversity goals. Integrated knowledge about biodiversity and ecosystem dynamics is required to answer that question.

Published by  IBED