Conservation GATEway - Global Assessment of Threats and Evidence: May 2018 blog entry

7 Aug 2018

Knowledge products such as the IUCN Species and Habitat Red Lists, IUCN and UN Environment Protected Planet initiative (based on the World Database on Protected Areas) and the World Database of Key Biodiversity Areas provide datasets on the status and trends in biodiversity and ecosystems. Yet there is no comparable product with information on how threats and pressures are spatially distributed on land and in the sea, how they are changing and how their impacts can be mitigated. This project, which started in August 2016, aims to fill this gap by collating metadata from contemporary threat data products as well as displaying related information on threatened species and supporting conservation evidence for actions to tackle threats.  

The following blog is written by Dr Brian O'Connor, Programme Officer, UNEP-WCMC (Collaborative Fund Project team member). Please see previous blog entry here

May 2018 interim blog entry

The project is progressing well. Much of the team’s time recently has been dedicated to the development of a ‘knowledge product’ that will enable access to the data being collected in this project on threats to biodiversity. 

The knowledge product’s development started with an analysis of the outputs from an online survey, which were combined with two interactive sessions on user needs. A series of draft webpage layouts, known as wireframes, were compiled to reflect the look and functionality of the knowledge product, one for each ‘entry point’ to the site –species, location, threat and action. 

Feedback from project team meetings refined and improved the prototypes, especially the search functions. Interactions between CCI partners within this current project have been occasional but always constructive. For a project of this scale, six-monthly general progress meetings have worked well, with smaller side meetings between partners as needed.

Eight volunteers, from a variety of conservation organisations (The Biodiversity Consultancy, UNEP-WCMC, BirdLife International, IUCN and University of Cambridge Conservation Evidence), tested the wireframes and their experiences were recorded to improve the site design. The use of volunteers from the CCI community to help test the prototypes was seamless thanks to the to the convenience and resources of the David Attenborough Building.

The outputs documenting the journey to the final website include: 

  • The results of the global survey 
  • The first draft wireframes 
  • The usability test interview transcripts 
  • Screen grabs from live recordings of the usability sessions

If you are interested in any of the above please contact Brian directly for further information. 

Challenges

Representatives from the IUCN Red List Unit, Conservation Evidence and UNEP-WCMC met to discuss issues impeding the development of the proposed knowledge product. These included the need to overcome limitations of the Red List Application Process Interface in exporting information to external webpages like our portal, particularly those related to species lists. The Red List API now requires users to generate tokens to use it. The Conservation Evidence website has the same issue in putting data on its site. The reclassification of the IUCN threats and actions classification schemes is possible later this year. The proposed changes may have potential implications for this and other projects which use the current classification system. 

There have been some communications issues within the partnership, relating in some cases to staff turnover and high workloads. Additionally, engaging with partners who are related to the project in an advisory capacity without the funds to cover their involvement has been tricky, given other commitments of these partners and the small scale of this project. Having said this, the input from these partners, in particular their external expertise, is invaluable.

All of the project outputs will be available from the project page on the CCI website.