Science blog

12 June 2014

The World we live in

Natalie Bevan looks back on last week’s World Environment Day #WED and considers the role of environmental data, outlining some examples of global ecological information sources available today.

Last week saw the annual celebration and public awareness campaign for all things green World Environment Day. With this in mind it seems an opportune time to consider some of the outstanding information resources available today for those interested or working in the broad discipline of environmental sciences. 

Tree Frog
Taking biodiversity as an example, data generated from scientific research are being used in a variety of innovative and progressive ways by organisations and individuals. As more data is made available, better analysis can be undertaken regarding the risks and threats faced by the natural environment. Most vitally this data can also be interpreted to discover effective solutions to complex global ecological problems.

The United Nations Environment Programme and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre - which support World Environment Day - have recreated this Conservation Dashboard. It provides easy access to snapshots of key ecological profiles country by country.

Biodiversity data are available to view, download and analyse in a variety of tools via this site. These include, to name but a few:  Ocean Data Viewer – this tool provides access to, and geospatial navigation of data on the conservation of coastal and marine ecology and Protected Planet -   this gives access to the most comprehensive global data on the world’s protected areas that can be explored through the map or searched for specific datasets.

Harlequin Macaw

We are also making strides here at the British Library in providing more visibility to datasets available on the web via our online catalogue, making a limited number of selected scientific research datasets records available in Explore the British Library.  Search for datasets here.

We have also made datasets relevant to flooding discoverable through our Envia tool.

Bee 148325846 (2)Finally, has it ever occurred to you that you might be interested in generating or collecting biodiversity data yourself? There are a number of interesting citizen science initiatives afoot in this area. Its worth checking out:

  • The Great British Bee Count – It’s well known that bees are suffering loss of habitat and food sources, but there is not a detailed picture of overall bee health across the UK. This project invites you to download an app, and record the bees you spot in your daily activities.
  • OPAL (Open Air Laboratories) – OPAL runs nation-wide surveys on the state of the environment. From the health of the trees in your neighbourhood, to the bugs in your hedge, learn a bit more about the environment around you and contribute to important scientific research!



Throughout history, nature have helped in the development of people. We must protect nature for future generations and for ourselves as well. We will learn ways to protect nature from nature itself again. I support the work carried out to explore nature.

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