25th Meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee

27/09/2000
25th Meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee
Gland, Switzerland, 23 - 27 October 2000
Agenda item 5

DOC. SC25-2

Report of the Secretary General

ANNEX III

Update on the Ramsar Data Gateway

Center for International Earth Science Information Network
Columbia University
PO Box 1000
61 Route 9W
Palisades, NY 10964
Tel: (1-845) 365-8988
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Update on Ramsar Gateway

September 26, 2000

Awannebo@ciesin.org

In accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding signed in February 2000 between the Bureau of the Convention on Wetlands, Wetlands International and CIESIN, the following summarizes the work completed so far towards the development of the General Objectives detailed under Article 1. This report highlights CIESIN’s contributions.

Towards the development of an on-line Ramsar Wetland Data Gateway through a multilevel, multidisciplinary, diverse resource base, including spatial, tabular and graphic data, all of which can be accessed through a common search interface (Article 1, 1.1), the following has been accomplished:

A. Database model development and data ingestion:

1. CIESIN developed a data model to accommodate the Ramsar data (tabular, graphical and spatial) and other data holdings within and outside of CIESIN.

2. Data dictionary development is under way.

3. Data for Ramsar Wetland Data Gateway.

Type Name Source Progress/Issues Data Dictionary
Text Ramsar Sites Database Wetlands International October 1999 version ingested Draft version completed. Technically adequate, needs conceptual work.
Text Directory of Wetlands of International Importance Wetlands International Electronic dataset partially completed, summary sheet headings broken down into fields Draft version completed.
Text Ramsar Annotated List Ramsar Bureau Electronic dataset completed. Text information broken down to fields. Draft version completed.
Text GRoWI Wetlands International Dataset already electronic. Under construction.
Spatial Ramsar Site Boundaries WCMC Dataset not yet provided.  
Spatial Case studies of Ramsar sites using remote sensing/GIS Ramsar Site Managers Several spatial datasets received. Development of ingestion method under way.  

B. On-line search interface:

1. Alpha prototype version of an interactive search interface for the Ramsar Sites Database was completed for the June 2000 STRP meeting (http://sedac.ciesin.org/ramsardg/). Initial comments and reaction received from STRP.

2. CIESIN exhibit at Quebec 2000 received input and commentary from international pool of wetland scientists and professionals.

3. Reviews, comments and critiques on alpha prototype of interactive search interface for the Ramsar Sites Database received from Wetlands International and select reviewers.

C. Data management and next version of search interface:

1. CIESIN to host and partially support visit by Scott Frazier, Wetlands International, October 8-11 2000, for technical meetings and discussions with CIESIN Information Technology staff.

2. CIESIN organizes technical meeting (October 12-13/14) between parties to the aforementioned MOU and invites organizations addressing similar data and information management issues (BCIS). Provisional agenda and participant list included.

The meeting will serve as a forum for the exchange of information on existing and future databases to be integrated into the Ramsar Wetland Data Gateway, how to achieve desired functionality of such a gateway, and how to maintain the databases included in the Ramsar Wetland Data Gateway. Discussions will be divided between the "big picture" architecture of the open network, and the "nuts and bolts" mechanics needed to make it work.

Some issues to be considered regarding the "big picture" architecture:

  • synergies between existing and future databases being undertaken by the invited participants
  • desired functionality of the Ramsar Wetland Data Gateway
  • ways forward to pool our resources and avoid duplication of effort
  • integration of spatial data
  • potential funding sources to support additional enhancements

Some issues to be considered regarding the "nuts and bolts" mechanics needed to make it work:

  • data formats (standards and documentation)
  • data dictionaries
  • data maintenance and updating (long and short term)
  • data archiving
  • metadata standards
  • data redistribution and attribution issues

D. Spatial data

Development and incorporation of spatial data into the Ramsar Wetland Data Gateway has not progressed at the same pace as that of tabular data. This is in large part due to the inaccessibility of Ramsar site boundaries. Issues of updates and quality control will need to be addressed if and when this dataset is acquired. These activities will have considerable financial costs associated with them. As access to and integration of these data with tabular data are of extreme value and importance to the Ramsar community, an effort to obtain funding to move this activity forward would be advisable.

E. Next Steps

The technical meeting scheduled for October 12-13 will address many of the issues required to advance this project as well as set a time frame for completion of these. Activity in the few months following the technical meeting will focus on implementing the decisions taken at the meeting.

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