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Services: the Regional Observatories for Protected Areas and Biodiversity

The Regional Observatories for Protected Areas and Biodiversity are the central pillar of BIOPAMA’s work. They support data collection, analysis, monitoring and reporting, develop the capacities of staff and organisations to manage this information and provide policy guidance for better decision making on biodiversity conservation.

Mandated by well-established regional institutions, four Regional Observatories have been established during the first phase of the BIOPAMA programme (2011-2017) and others are being established under the second phase. These key regional partners include: the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), the University of the West Indies (UWI-CERMES) in the Caribbean, the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat, the Observatory for Central African Forests (COMIFAC-OFAC), the West African Marine Protected Areas Network (RAMPAO) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU).

BIOPAMA engages primarily with national and regional level agencies and institutions, with additional targeted interaction with protected area managers

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Services of the BIOPAMA Observatories include:

  • Hosting data and information

    The Reference Information Systems (RRIS) are a key feature of each Observatory.  The RRIS is a tool that gathers in one place the information from the many knowledge products, projects, databases on protected areas, species and related information, in addition to the data uploaded, created and generated by the users themselves.  The Joint Research Centre is responsible for the development of these tools, uploaded with the information collected through the functions of the Observatories. Currently there are nine instances of the Reference Information Systems.

  • Planning and decision making support

    The provision of data, information and guidance can enhance the protected area decision-making and planning at regional, national and site levels. The Regional Observatories provide these services that allow planners and decision makers to access the most updated and comprehensive information on protected areas and natural resources management using the Reference Information Systems. The production of periodic status reports on biodiversity and other policy support materials, as well as the networking function of the Observatories benefit conservation planners and decision makers. 

  • Assessment tools and their application

    In order to support protected area planning and decision making, BIOPAMA is providing tools that respond to the specific requests in data collection, information management, governance assessments and others.

    The first tool developed is IMET, the Integrated Management Effectiveness Tool.

  • Capacity development

    The capacity development actions of the BIOPAMA programme aim at building the capacity of staff in national administrations and other conservation actors to make effective use of the tools developed through BIOPAMA that lead to better informed decisions and actions for improved biodiversity conservation outcomes.

    One of the main objectives of the programme is to build the capacity of countries to make effective use of the RRIS, the Reference Information Systems, to report regularly to international conventions and agreements, such as the Convention on the Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Tools: Data and information management

Using the best available information to drive appropriate conservation actions and decisions is crucial for protected areas management and the livelihoods of people who depend on them.

The Reference Information Systems (RIS) are a key feature of each Observatory. The RIS is a tool that gathers in one place the information from the many knowledge products, projects, databases on protected areas, species and related information, in addition to the data uploaded, created and generated by the users themselves. It is expected to be harmonised with other major global datasets and relevant information management platforms, including PANORAMA - Solutions for a Healthy Planet, and the IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas. This information can be used to support decision making for planning, designating and managing protected areas.

The Reference Information Systems:

  • The BIOPAMA Reference Information System (RRIS) uses the internet to gather information from different authoritative sources. A lot of this information is geospatial (maps and other data with a geographic reference), complemented with information on training, best practice, funding, literature and expertise. Typical information in the RRIS includes: Protected Areas boundaries, species and IUCN Red List data, land cover data; Important Bird Areas; extractive industries and resource exploitation  population, infrastructure and settlements data; climate and meteorological data (source: JRC); Soil data (source: JRC); Satellite imagery (source: various); Training and capacity building opportunities.

    The BIOPAMA RIS uses the services provided by DOPA at global level in combination with ad-hoc regional, national and site level data to provide a more complete picture of the situation in Protected Areas across the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

  • A sub-regional version of the Reference Information System focuses on the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU, UEMOA in French).

  • A sub-regional version of the Reference Information System focuses on marine protected areas in Western Africa. It is the result of collaboration with RAMPAO (the West African Marine Protected Areas Network).

  • The Observatory for Central African Forests (OFAC) has added a protected areas component, with BIOPAMA’s contribution. 

  • With the establishment of the East African Community Observatory in 2015, a dedicated version of the Reference Information System was developed. Its content is drawn from global datasets, some primarily regional datasets focusing on the overlap between extractive industries and protected areas and local datasets relevant to the needs of the region.

  • The existing Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCA) Portal of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) TFCA Network will be complemented by a sub-regional version of the Reference Information System for Southern Africa

  • The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) includes governments from the Horn of Africa, Nile Valley and the African Great Lakes.

  • The Caribbean Protected Areas Gateway (the name of this region’s observatory) is hosted by the University of the West Indies (UWI CERMES) and maintains a Reference Information System that provides data and tools on: marine and terrestrial ecosystems, species and habitats, ecosystem services, livelihoods, pressure and threats, management and governance, information on training opportunities, as well as a forum for discussions.

  • Hosted by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), PIPAP allows national services, partners and stakeholders to freely store, view and interpret information about protected areas, biodiversity values, marine and terrestrial ecosystems, species and habitats, pressures and threats, management and governance. PIPAP addresses not only national parks and other areas meeting international standards for protected areas, but also community conservation efforts, managed fishing zones and other locally managed areas.  

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FUNDING

SITE-BASED ACTIONS

BIOPAMA will support specific actions on the ground aimed at strengthening protected areas and natural resources management effectiveness and governance. The application of the BIOPAMA management and governance assessment tools will help identify where management action is necessary.

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