The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's in-house science service. The JRC has a well-established track record in setting up monitoring systems for resources and the environment, supporting European Union Development and Cooperation policies and programmes.​


In the BIOPAMA programme, JRC leads the design and development of the "Regional Reference Information Systems" (RRIS) for biodiversity and protected areas management that will be deployed in the regional observatories in the Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific regions.

In 2013 the JRC is moving from a conception phase to actively building the components of the RRIS. This involves widespread consultation with interested parties throughout the ACP Region, including the BIOPAMA regional workshops held at the end of 2012 and in early 2013. The RRIS development builds on ongoing work to develop modular IT tools and web services focused on biodiversity and protected areas. The JRC firmly believes that by enabling existing data and information resources to be used as web services, it can rapidly build useful and innovative applications that tackle the very real challenges faced by those who are involved in, and depend on, protected areas management at all levels. The various activities in this area are grouped under the heading "DOPA - the Digital Observatory of Protected Areas", and DOPA is the technical platform that underpins most of the JRC’s work.

The JRC’s approach is to take the generic DOPA components and build simple pilot applications that will ultimately feature in the RRIS, but at this stage it is more important to validate assumptions about what users really need. The RRIS has a strong emphasis on geospatial data and information (maps, georeferenced measurements and observations, satellite and aerial imagery). It also integrates, using web services and authoritative reference data from other organisations and institutions.

All JRC developments use open source software, allowing users to deploy these components, in whole or in part, without requiring proprietary software to run them.


The Beta version of DOPA (Digital Observatory for Protected Areas) Explorer, a key component of BIOPAMA which will provide the technical backbone of the Programme’s Regional Reference Information Systems (RRIS), was released in November 2013. Developed by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in collaboration with the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), IUCN, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and BirdLife International, DOPA Explorer Beta is the first web based tool documenting 9,000 marine and terrestrial protected areas that are greater than 150 km2.

DOPA Explorer can help identify the protected areas with the most unique ecosystems and species and assess the pressures they are exposed to as a result of human development. Explorer can also provide ecological data derived from close to real-time earth observations. Inversely, DOPA Explorer indirectly highlights the protected areas for which the information is incomplete. Continue reading