Improving access to biodiversity data for, and from, EIAs – a data publishing framework built to global standards
Biodiversity data, Biodiversity Data Publishing Framework, EIA, GBIF, India, South Africa
Biodiversity information obtained during environmental impact assessments (EIAs) is rarely accessible for other uses following the completion of the EIA. Such data need to be made readily accessible; adding them to publicly accessible national datasets is important if biodiversity science, conservation and future decisions based on environmental assessment are to benefit from new biodiversity data and improved biodiversity data coverage. An ‘EIA Biodiversity Data Publishing Framework’, based on the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) global standards, is thus proposed to meet this need. This paper outlines the GBIF-catalysed initiative to establish such an operational framework for uptake by the EIA community, as well as options that are available for data publishing in the absence of such a framework. It reviews the current state of accessibility and management of the primary biodiversity data associated with EIA studies, and highlights the urgent need for uptake of a range of data-publishing tools and best practices for making EIA biodiversity data exchangeable using globally accepted standards. Lessons learnt from pilot projects in India and South Africa underline the call for the rapid uptake of a national-to-global scale EIA Biodiversity Data Publishing Framework.