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D BON-21-02: Explore concepts to improve the operational connection between BONs and broader information systems
Explore concepts to improve the operational connection between BONs and broader information systems
Creation Year:
Completion Date:
2022 Q3 (75 days remaining)

Explore and develop ideas with other organizations (including, for example, private-public partnerships) for an information system that supports development and operation of Biodiversity Observation Networks (BONs). The system could combine models, remote sensing and in situ data from a variety of existing sources to provide important data products for biodiversity stakeholders such as the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Link to GEO Work Programme:
External Reference:
Responsible Users:
Gary Geller
Responsible CEOS Entities:
CEOS Biodiversity Expert
Contributing Agencies:
Progress Reports:
Gary Geller | 2021-09-08 23:28:06 UTC

As explained in the comments, this deliverable includes two closely related concepts.

BON focus

  • A manuscript was submitted in August that explores challenges to BON expansion and ways to address them (Andrew Gonzalez, GEO BON co-lead, is first author with roughly 60 co-authors). It discusses how additional geographic BON coverage can enable reliable EBV estimates. These can then be used to generate CBD indicators and deliver them to CBD and the broader biodiversity community.
  • GEO BON received a grant from Microsoft to facilitate enhancement of BON-in-a-Box V1.0 to V2.0. BON-in-a-Box is a collection of tools and other resources to guide national governments and other organizations as they develop their Biodiversity Observation Networks.

Global system focus

  • The concept of a global biodiversity observation and information system is very ambitious and remains in the exploratory stage.
  • A small group continues to explore and help socialize the vision and its value, and foster conversations. The group has discussed a proposal for an activity on this topic with the organizers of the 2022 World Biodiversity Forum.
  • The concept is a component of a manuscript, now in preparation, that discusses the recent and ongoing explosion in availability of EO data, and how these data can best be used to support science and societal applications.
Gary Geller | 2022-02-10 21:30:31 UTC

Update, 2022-02-10

The manuscript exploring challenges to BON expansion towards a global system is being actively revised to better fit the journal format and needs. The Microsoft funding in support of updating the BON in a Box toolkit was received and the toolkit is being actively updated by the Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science (McGill University, Canada, host of GEO BON) and the Humboldt Institute in Colombia (a major GEO BON partner and home institute of one GEO BON co-Chair).

The BON in a Box update is focused on adding some new tools incorporating machine learning so that users can perform queries to rapidly synthesize existing biodiversity knowledge in a region (prior to establishing a BON) and then design and optimize a BON (e.g., estimate biodiversity trends based on data produced by BON, incorporate constraints such as land use and available resources). The tools are free and open-source and will help streamline the data-to-decision pathway.

A workshop proposal on the topic of a global biodiversity system was submitted to the World Biodiversity Forum 2022 by Gary Geller and Fabian Schneider of NASA/JPL with consultation with Andy Gonzalez, GEO BON co-lead, and Cornelia Krug, lead Forum organizer. A one day workshop was approved by the WBF Organizing Committee and, subsequently, a proposal was submitted to ESA for funding support. This was approved, providing EUR20k to be used for logistical support and participant travel.

An informal “organizing committee” for the workshop that includes the above-named people was formed. Discussion within that committee has indicated that the two closely related concepts described in the previous update should be merged as they are related aspects of the same system. It is that merged concept—still at a very high level—that will be explored at the WBF workshop scheduled for 26 June in Davos, Switzerland.

Gary Geller | 2021-09-08 23:23:59 UTC

There are two closely related concepts to this deliverable; these are summarized separately here.

Background-1. A BON is a collaboration among partners who agree to share knowledge and know-how to evaluate changes in biodiversity, including data, products, protocols and methods, data systems, and software. BONs seek to establish standardized processes for sustained, operational measurements of biodiversity to understand how biodiversity is changing so as to provide information needed by governments and intergovernmental bodies for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. BONs can be national or regional in scale, or topically based such as the Marine BON, and they often emphasize in situ data collection, though also work to utilize Earth observations and integrate the two. One of GEO BON’s core goals, directly tied to this deliverable, is to expand the areal and topical coverage of BONs and the level of interaction among them.

Background-2. A concept having heavy overlap with BONs is sometimes called the Global Biodiversity Monitoring System (or Global Biodiversity Observation System, or Observation and Information System…). It tends to be somewhat more oriented towards satellite-based observations than BONs, though has a similar focus on integrating them with in situ and airborne data as well as improved data sharing. More flexibility and increased breadth in the range of product generation is another element. This is a concept that has been discussed for several years in different venues; it is probably accurate to say that there is general agreement on the value of such a system, and that the best approach is a system of systems via a federation of partners. However, progressing global concepts requiring collaboration among funding-limited partners is challenging.

2021-02-16 12:27:51 UTC
Last Updated:
2022-02-10 21:30:31 UTC