In a remarkable stride towards better maritime spatial planning and biodiversity conservation, the MSP4BIO project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe program, has released its comprehensive analysis titled “Overview of the Available Biodiversity Datasets and Platforms Relevant for Planning.” This pivotal report, Deliverable 2.1 of the project, offers an unprecedented look into the current state of biodiversity data across various European regions, highlighting both the richness and gaps in existing information. The report was based on a data inventory of over 300 datasets and data platforms which will be shared with the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) to support its provision of open-access marine data.
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The Essence of MSP4BIO’s Work
MSP4BIO, standing for “Improved Science-Based Maritime Spatial Planning to Safeguard and Restore Biodiversity in a Coherent European MPA Network,” is a beacon of hope in the quest to protect our marine ecosystems. The project’s recent deliverable, spearheaded by a consortium of experts from VLIZ and other contributing partners, delves deep into the availability and accessibility of crucial biodiversity data, essential for effective Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) and the creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
Key Findings: A Mixed Bag of Data Availability
The metadata of more than 300 datasets, data platforms, models, and tools from a wide variety of sources were compiled in an inventory, which reveals a varied landscape of data availability across six test sites in European waters, including the Northwest Mediterranean, Gulf of Cadiz, Belgian Part of the North Sea, Western Black Sea, Baltic Sea, and the Azores. The analysis identified significant data gaps, providing a clear direction for future data collection efforts within the MSP4BIO project and beyond.
Data Types and Sources: A Rich Tapestry
The study categorizes data into several types, including biotic, abiotic, anthropogenic impacts, climate, social, economic, and cultural, spatial and other, sourced from a wide array of platforms like as EMODnet, SeaDataNet, OBIS, Copernicus Marine and Climate Change Services, and national/regional data platforms. This categorization not only aids in understanding the current data landscape but also in identifying specific areas where more information is needed. This information indicates the data gaps, guiding partners in the needs of collection of data in specific test sites.
Challenges and Opportunities: The Road Ahead
While the report highlights the high availability of certain data types, such as MPA and OECM spatial data, species occurrence maps, and dispersion models, it also points out the scarcity of regional and sub-regional climate change projections, ecological corridors, and transport and larval behavior data. This disparity in data availability underscores the need for targeted data collection and sharing efforts.
A Living Document: Evolving with Time
The MSP4BIO data inventory is not just a static report but a “living document,” expected to evolve as new data and platforms emerge. This dynamic nature ensures that the project remains at the forefront of MSP and biodiversity conservation efforts. The inventory will be shared with EMODnet, who will include datasets which are relevant to any of the seven thematic lots on the portal. The deliverable will also become available in our website once approved by reviewers.
Conclusion: A Step Towards a Sustainable Future
The MSP4BIO project’s deliverable is more than just a compilation of data; it’s a roadmap guiding us towards a more sustainable and biodiverse future. By highlighting the current state of biodiversity data and identifying key gaps, this report paves the way for more informed and effective conservation strategies, ensuring that our marine ecosystems continue to thrive for generations to come.\]