ArticlePDF Available

Biodiversity Conservation Information Network: A Concept Plan

Authors:
  • Centre for Environment & Social Concerns

Abstract

A network that ensures the availability of reliable, up-to-date environmental information is necessary to realise the objectives set out in Convention on Biodiversity (now a treaty) that followed from the Earth Summit at Rio, June 1992. The task of building a nature conservation information network should, therefore, be considered an important part of the biodiversity conservation agenda. This paper presents an outline of a hypothetical information network, designated as Conservation Information Network (CiNet), to meet requirements of bio-resources conservation, mapping, inventorying and monitoring on a large scale. The dataflow framework presented takes into account the existing data networks in India.
General Article
Current Science 69: 906-914: (1995)
Biodiversity Conservation Information Network:
A Concept Plan
C.P. Geevan
Abstract
A network that ensures the availability of reliable, up-to-date environmental information is necessary to
realise the objectives set out in Convention on Biodiversity (now a treaty) that followed from the Earth
Summit at Rio, June 1992. The task of building a nature conservation information network should,
therefore, be considered an important part of the biodiversity conservation agenda. This paper presents
an outline of a hypothetical information network, designated as Conservation Information Network
(CiNet), to meet requirements of bio-resources conservation, mapping, inventorying and monitoring on
a large scale. The dataflow framework presented takes into account the existing data networks in India.
Keywords: Biodiversity, Conservation, Databases, Information, Network
Background
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
that emerged from the United Nations Conference
on Environment and Development (UNCED) or
the Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro, in June 1992
is now a treaty. The CBD covers almost every
aspect of biodiversity conservation. Article 17 of
CBD concerns exchange of information.
However, it does not lay down any operational
framework for achieving information exchange.
Nevertheless, an information network that ensures
the availability of reliable, up-to-date
environmental information is necessary to realise
the objectives set out in CBD. The existing
information systems are considered to be
inadequate to meet these challenges
1
.
The task of building a nature conservation
information network should, therefore, be
considered an important part of the conservation
agenda. This paper presents an outline of an
information network to meet requirements of bio-
resources mapping, inventorying and monitoring
programme. The hypothetical network is
designated as Conservation Information Network
(CiNet). The dataflow framework is presented
taking into account the ready availability of well-
developed data networks in India and the CiNet is
conceptualised as an overlay network riding over
the existing networks.
Special Interest Groups on Global Networks
Computer networking has gone beyond setting up
data links to creating information highways over
which organisations and individuals are connected
across the globe. The nature conservation efforts
need to take advantage of these developments in
information technology and create a niche for
itself in the cyberspace. There are several
important initiatives in this direction such as the
INFOTERRA of the United Nations Environment
Programme (UNEP) consisting of 170 national
nodal points coordinated from the UNEP
headquarters at Nairobi, the Environmental
Resources Information Network (ERIN) in
Australia with a biodiversity information system
designed to meet the changing user needs, the
Bio-diversity Information Network (BIN21)
dedicated to the CBD with its secretariat at the
Tropical Database in Brazil, the Long-term
Ecological Research Network (LTER) based in
the University of Washington and the projects in
Capacity Building for Biodiversity Information
Management begun by World Conservation
Monitoring Centre (WCMC) based in United
Kingdom and the BioNET-International proposed
by CAB International to pool the global resources
in biosystematics. With the assistance from the
United Nations Development Programme
(UNDP) under CAPACITY 21, a large number of
Sustainable Development Networks are also
2
expected to be set up.
The capacity building project of WCMC is
supported by the European Union and allows it to
carry out the strategic development work as well
as testing of networking and other cooperative
approaches for biodiversity information
management. BioNET International is a Global
Technical Cooperation Network of institutions
and people concerned with biosystematics of
Invertebrates and Micro-organisms. The goal of
this network, as stated, is the mobilisation and
enhancement of the world's bio-systematic
resources for the benefit of developing countries.
BioNET will build and sustain bio-systematic
self-reliance in developing sub-regions and
provide the bio-systematic backup to biodiversity.
Several special interest groups and networks
(SIGN) dedicated to biodiversity conservation
have sprouted up all over the global computer
network. These SIGNs provide various facilities
to users. Some of these are available to the email
subscribers to the list. Subscribers usually join a
list by sending an email with requisite information
to the listserver or the master of the list. The user's
name, email address and other information are
then added to the email database maintained by
the SIGN.
Biodiversity Information Networks in India:
current status
There are a large number of Non-Government
Organisations (NGO) and research organisations
involved in conservation related activities and
research. India is not only rich in biodiversity, but
can also boast of large baseline information on
this wealth. The repositories of this information
are numerous and diverse, with some of the
agencies being more than a century old.
Invaluable information exists in a variety of
forms: as specimens, field notes, reports as well as
various kinds of computerised data.
Despite dramatic developments in information
technology and quantum leaps in telecom
facilities, the conservation efforts in India are yet
to make the best use of the options available for
information exchange, barring a few exceptions.
The recent discussions on the mechanisms and
scope of the information base for biodiversity
conservation in India
2
, is an indication of this
realisation. The information networks for
biological conservation are at a formative stage,
the front-runner being the network initiative of the
Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health
Traditions (FRLHT).
The well-established and nationwide biological
information network is the Bio-Technology
Information System (BTIS) consisting of the
Distributed Information Centres of the
Department of Biotechnology supported by
NICNET - the computer network of the National
Informatics Centre (NIC). Another biological
information service available is the access to the
Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System
(MEDLARS) over NICNET, provided to select
institutions by NIC. The different institutions with
access to MEDLARS do not, however, exist as
inter-connected nodes.
Although FRLHT has taken an initiative in
creating the Indian Medicinal Plants National
Network of Distributed Databases
(INMEDPLAN), it falls short of the larger needs
of networking the conservation activity and bio-
resources mapping. This can only be met by the
'inter-networking' of several networks such as
INMEDPLAN, BTIS and those in the offing like
the Biodiversity Information System (BIS) of the
Indira Gandhi Conservation Monitoring Centre
(IGCMC) established by the World Wide Fund
for Nature (WWF) and the Environmental
Resources Information System (ERIS) being
devised at Wildlife Institute of India (WII). The
IGCMC proposals, unlike that of FRLHT, appear
to favour an over centralised system, rather than a
true network of several fully autonomous,
distributed information systems.
The INMEDPLAN is a network of organisations
involved in identifying, documenting and reviving
folk and traditional health systems and in the
inventorying of medicinal plants. FRLHT has also
attempted to bring about some sort of
standardisation in data compilation formats. A
large number of organisations are also involved in
the consultative process of standardisation.
Although, the BTIS does not have conservation
priorities, it provides rapid access to a wide
variety of biological databases, besides those
3
related to biotechnology. Moreover, considering
the role that molecular biology and DNA
fingerprinting are destined to play in biodiversity
inventorying and monitoring, it is important to
bring BTIS within the ambit of conservation
network.
A recent study of biological databases available in
India indicates that the majority of these are
developed under BTIS
3
. Although the study does
not appear to have examined the information
resources available at reputed ecological research
institutions, its overall conclusion that the
contribution from sources other than BTIS is
marginal, may have some validity. The same study
also notes that the use of the available databases is
restricted due to lack of electronic data transfer
facility and networking. The BTIS users make use
of NIC's satellite based network for data
communication. However, BTIS does not function
as a true on-line computer network due to certain
limitations imposed by NICNET.
Both ERIS/WII and BIS/IGCMC/WWF are at an
early developmental stage. It is important that the
originators of these information systems lay down
some long-term networking and standardisation
goals as part of the design and development
activity. What needs to be clearly recognised is
that the highly centralised information systems
relying on high performance computers are a thing
of the past and the future belongs to inter-
networking of special interest groups. With a
highly decentralised and participatory approach to
conservation, it becomes all the more important to
anticipate the need for an truly extensive data
network and take into account the multiplicity of
end-user needs.
As important as access to information or even
more, is the access to people and person to person
communication on the network. It is such
communication which makes the network come
alive. The conservation effort in India, has an
overwhelming need to create such a 'live' network,
particularly because, informal networks of people
and organisations exist and have been able to open
up large areas of co-operative endeavour.
Information Sharing: some contentious issues
The CBD introduces new elements into the
ticklish question of information sharing across
political boundaries. Even, where national
boundaries are not involved, there are many
important matters of protocol and copyrights as
well as the rights of local communities that need
to be addressed for the network to be operational.
However, it is better to take on the bull by its
horns.
It has been argued, albeit with good intentions,
that electronic exchange of biodiversity
information will open a Pandoras box of possible
infringements of national rights over genetic
resources caused by information flow over global
networks. Other contentious issues relates to
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and cultural
heritage rights in the context of CBD.
There is a view that until and unless these issues
are fully resolved it would be rather premature to
think of electronic networks. However, what
needs to be taken note of is that most of the
information that may be available on these
networks will in case be published sooner or later
in journals. Publication of findings per se cannot
be and should not be stopped, irrespective of the
media used. Once published in journals, anyone
around the globe can put that information out on a
network. Thus, any blanket ban on information
transfers on network cannot make sense today,
when scientific journals are being available on
CD-ROMs and almost every important journal is
providing back issues as CD-ROM volumes.
It needs to be noted that in countries where the
IPRs are enforced, rather stridently, that has not
become a damper to information flow on
networks. These services are being made use of in
India, too, by scientists at research institutes in
physical sciences and molecular biology as well as
by the software developers. The IPR issues need
not be a detriment to the emergence of CiNet.
Besides, the network will only allow access to
information that is open to public. It does not
permit anyone to access any kind of information;
all access being subject to the restrictions imposed
by the network administrators.
The CiNet
The goal of CiNet is to create a voluntary, on-line
'live wire' network of researchers, government
4
officials, ecosystem managers, executive decision
makers, NGOs and local communities for
biological conservation and sustainable
development in India. It must be based on best
available, cost effective technologies and
workable administrative arrangements. Instead of
setting out to make large investments in
infrastructure building, the network must make the
best use of available facilities and function on a
cost sharing, no-profit-no-loss basis. To cut costs,
the existing networks and access providers can be
made active participants in this process.
The CiNet must play the following two roles: a)
organise a loose network of organisations
interested in conservation and b) establish a well
coordinated data network with features and
functions similar to the special interest computer
networks that exist elsewhere in the world.
The CiNet can succeed only by cooperating with
other initiatives and by assuming an inter-
networking role. The necessary administrative and
technical protocols can be worked out to ensure
meaningful cooperation and active collaboration
among such organisations. The network must
provide mechanisms at different levels for free
information flow between these numerous
organisations and between networks. The
conceptual framework articulated here attempts to
address the data flow challenges of the 'massive,
decentralised' bio-resources mapping exercise
with the active participation of people, suggested
by Madhav Gadgil
4
. He contemplates a
'nationwide village level programme of mapping
of natural and man-made habitats on the scale of a
hectare or so'. The Panchayat Level Bio-
Resources Mapping Programme, that he advances,
involves teams of 'bare foot ecologists' under the
guidance of taxonomic experts and are referred
here as Bio-Resources Mapping Teams (BMT).
The proposed CiNet consists of a network of
Distributed Biodiversity Information Centres
(DBIC) for data compilation, information
processing and dissemination services assisted by
several Field Studies Units (FSU) and BMTs.
Selected institutions active in ecological research
and willing to assist the CiNet activities could act
as Associate Resource Centre (ARC) for the
DBIC. These ARCs will also function as value
adding nodes on the CiNet. The ARCs are
expected to 'add value' by way of analysis and
critical evaluation of the data as well as assist the
BMTs. The data flow framework of the network is
given in Fig. 1 and 2.
The distributed information systems can be
networked via land and satellite links making use
of the telecommunication facilities and datalinks
already available in India. The CiNet National
Centre (CNC) can also provide decision support
services to the Ministry of Environment &
Forests, Government of India (MoEF) and other
governmental agencies. The CNC will also be
responsible for the overall co-ordination and
technical support for the CiNet. In addition, the
CNC will also carry out appropriate clearinghouse
functions as the information travels across the
network. The clearinghouse mechanisms will
ensure reliability of the network and enforce
quality control and validation checks on the data
that is added to the central databases. The CNC
must, therefore, have a technical secretariat for its
clearinghouse functions. Ideally, the CNC could
be located at a site where the best facilities and
expertise in information technology as well as bio-
resources mapping, inventorying and monitoring
are available.
The User Community
The end users of the network are envisaged at
different levels of decision-making and
management:
a. Macro level executive decision makers,
national policy makers, planners, national
institutions, national level NGOs such as
WWF (India), inter-governmental
organisations under United Nations,
international development agencies and
international institutions for the
implementation of the CBD.
b. Decision makers, policy makers, managers,
scientists, NGOs and individuals at the state,
district and community level.
c. Microlevel planners, community organisations
and grass root level NGOs.
5
6
The CiNet can help the larger goals of
biodiversity conservation by addressing the
information needs of:
Protected area management
Short and long term ecological studies
Socio-economic studies and development
programmes
Community based development programmes
Adapting and improving the traditional
methods of resource use
Local communities and bio-resources mapping
programmes
The CiNet Databases
Some of the major databases that must be
organised under the CiNet are:
Data on the flora and fauna of India with
taxonomic details and information relevant for
conservation of bio-diversity.
Environmental Impact and Status Data
Sustainable resource use potential and
practices; sustainable technological options;
socio-economic profiles of sustainable
resource use
Hydrologic and agro-climatic and metrological
data
Institutions, Experts, Resource Persons and
NGOs with information on area of
specialisation, infrastructure facilities,
experience and catalogue information on
educational software (printed materials and
audio-visuals).
Bibliographic data extracted from on-line
databases and those compiled from Indian
publications not covered by international
bibliographic services
Metadatabases on information sources,
specimen and herbarium collections, map
archives and photo/audio-visual libraries
Socio-economic and demographic data
relevant to Ecosystem Management &
Conservation
Standards
The most important question that the network
builders need to recognise and deal with is that of
data standards. Certain standardisation process is
already on. However lot more remains to be done.
Considering the large amount of information
available in different forms, drawing up standards
is an urgent need.
Some of the entities that must be accorded high
priority for standardisation (in alphabetical order)
are:
Abundance Codes for Trends and Status
Bibliographic Formats
Biodiversity Mapping Grid Identification
Codes relating it to Survey of India
Toposheets.
Biogeographic Site Descriptors
Biosystematics
Conservation Status Descriptors for different
levels of taxa
Degradation/Disturbed Area Classification
Descriptors of Anthropogenic Pressures on
Ecosystems
Directory of Castes and Tribes based on the
data from Anthropological Survey of India's
Peoples of India Project
Distribution classes associated with different
taxonomic levels
Ecological Classification/Habitat Types and
Classes
Faunal and Floral Attributes or a Simplified
Taxa Identification Key System
Landuse Related Descriptors
Location Identity/Site Codes
Macro and Micro-Climate Types
Resource Use Related Descriptors
Soil Related Descriptors
Species - Species Relationships/Associations
Water: Nutrient and Water Quality Related
Indices
Geographical Information System (GIS) and
Biodiversity Maps
The CNC must be equipped with state of the art
workstation based GIS facilities while at each
DBIC, either a middle or entry level based GIS
facility that can be run on a personal computer
must be established or arrangements must be
made for sharing GIS resources with a well
equipped ARC. The GIS makes it possible to
make use of computers for the analysis of spatial
data. The spatial data such as maps are first
converted into computer readable form. This is
achieved using hardware such as scanner or
digitizer. GIS can also make use of satellite
7
imageries and compare such images taken at
different times. It is also possible to overlay these
computerised maps with information collected
from ecological surveys by the FSUs. The data
residing on well-structured databases can also be
incorporated into the GIS to produce spatial
representation and visualisation of such data. It is
also possible to undertake substantive statistical
analysis of the spatially aggregated data.
The GIS facilities at the DBIC must provide
facilities for updates and retrievals of spatial data
for use by the FSUs. Therefore, besides computer
systems, requisite input/output and display
devices like large high resolution colour video
display units, digitizers, scanners and colour
printers needs to be installed at the DBICs. These
facilities only need to be added to the DBICs in a
phased manner keeping in step with the growth of
the bioresources mapping programme.
CiNet needs to work towards developing a
comprehensive GIS based bio-resources map
library and make it available on-line to the CiNet
users. Since the spatial scales envisaged for the
Biodiversity Map Grids under the bio-resources
mapping programme is of the order of 1 to 10
hectare grids, the map libraries must organise
spatial data on maps of very large scale. In
practice, it will be difficult to organise map
libraries for 1-hectare grids and it may be
necessary to opt for larger biodiversity mapping
grids of nearly 1000 hectares.
Information Sharing Mechanisms
The major databases of CiNet must be organised
using database management system technologies
that conform to industry standards. It is desirable
that the large central databases of CiNet are well
structured based on relational database
management concepts. Such well-structured
databases can be used to hold the authenticated
baseline data, with a bare minimum of essential
details. It is also necessary to develop multimedia
databases that can include text, pictures and
sound. These databases will reside on servers
providing access to data in several ways.
However, as pointed out earlier, information on
computers are not organised merely as well
structured databases; there is certainly a lot more
to information sharing via networks, than
databases. Besides, well-structured databases,
information needs of the network users have to be
met in several other ways as well. A recent
workshop that examined the linking mechanisms
for BIN21 concluded that the best approach was
for it to function as a SIGN having several
participating nodes with web servers
5
.
Typically, the information on a network will
consist of non-database entities such as
documents, graphic objects, messages, news
bulletins, reports on new findings, electronic
journals, file archives, and large amounts of
information organised in a hypertext format. The
network has to provide nodes with servers that can
provide a host of services available on the
Internet, which is a 'network of networks' linking
computers all over the globe. The CiNet can be
built by creating an exclusive network of members
or by becoming a part of the global internet
community. The later option is cost effective and
it is possible to make use of the Internet
connectivity in collaboration with the Education
and Research Network (ERNET) project. The
ERNET infrastructure can be augmented to meet
the needs of CiNet. It must be noted that the users
will have varying degrees of difficulty in network
access. Therefore, a host of linking mechanisms,
that allow connectivity by means of low speed
dialup telephone lines as well as high speed links
over leased telephone lines, satellite links and
public data networks, must be made available to
the CiNet users.
The networks on Internet maintain mail lists, news
bulletins boards, special interest groups, file
archives and help individuals find the right
information or the right contact. The main Internet
tools are Gopher, World Wide Web (WWW)
and the Wide Area Information Server (WAIS).
The information available on Gopher servers are
limited to text. Gopher organises information in a
hierarchical menu based system analogous to the
table of contents of a book. The WWW uses
hypertext links to connect together pieces of
information contained in documents located at
different nodes. The information in the documents
is organised using the HyperText Markup
Language (html). Files are transferred using the
HyperText Transfer Protocol (http) and the
File Transfer Protocol (ftp). The WAIS is a
8
client-server tool that can be used to search and
retrieve files, based on full test indexing of the
contents or titles.
These internet services can be organised on a cost
sharing basis with the major initiative coming
from a large organisation or university. The
network must provide all or some of these
facilities, besides off-line email. The CNC and
each DBIC must set up a WWW or Gopher. The
CNC need to operate a listservers and bulletin
boards. The CNC also need to provide access to
major databases. The DBIC must provide user
access to on-line searches on the databases located
at any of the DBIC or CNC.
It is important that besides email, CiNet users
have access to internet services such as ftpmail
and mailgopher. The DOS or Windows based PCs
connected to the DBICs using modems can be
provided shell accounts on the servers at the
DBIC. Those nodes which can be connected to the
DBIC servers using high speed links or leased
telephone lines can make use of the services such
as Gopher, WWW or WAIS. Each of the BMT,
FSU or ARC must have at least email access, and
if possible other facilities based on TCP/IP. The
TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/
Internet Protocol) is a way of packaging data for
easy movement between many different computer
systems. It consists of a collection of search,
retrieval and communications utilities. Personal
computers (PCs) running DOS/Windows can
make use of the network services by means of
either the Serial Line Internet Protocol (SLIP)
or the Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) with the
TCP/IP stack up and running on the PC, provided
the DBICs offer SLIP or PPP accounts on the
servers.
To facilitate network connectivity there are certain
software and hardware needs. To enable simple
email facility for a CiNet user equipped with a
PC, all that is needed is a mail service account on
the DBIC server, a telephone, a modem and
communication software loaded on the PC to
enable terminal emulation after getting connected
to the DBIC server. The DBICs, also need to have
facilities for remote users to login via telephone
lines and must therefore have the DBIC server
also connected to the telephone lines through
modem. The modem speeds in this can be even as
low as 300 bits per second (bps) and faster
modems can be used where higher speeds can be
attained. The computer at the user end can also be
a multi-user system running UNIX. If only a
dialup link with the DBIC is possible, then an
UUCP (Unix-to-Unix Copy) account can be
created on the DBIC server to transfer email as a
fully automated service.
If the user has access to better communication
facilities such as the X.25 based connection or a
leased high speed telephone line to a DBIC server,
and the computer system at the user end is multi-
user running any port of System V Release 4
UNIX complete with X/Windows Graphical User
Interface and TCP/IP, then all the network
services can be made use of. Email can be
transferred using the Simple Mail Transfer
Protocol (SMTP) rather than UUCP. Several other
facilities such as FTP and TELNET for remote
login to the CiNet servers will also become
possible. A high-speed modem is needed because
if the user is to make the best use of network
services, connectivity must be achieved at speeds
of 14.4 Kilo bps or above. Otherwise the network
access can become very tiresome. High-speed
modems and interface cards are required at both
ends.
Software support is needed by way of the
communication protocols (TCP/IP and SLIP or
PPP). Both the PC at the user's end of the CiNet
and the DBIC server of the CiNet must be running
either SLIP or PPP as well as the versatile TCP/IP.
With the software and hardware (interface cards
on the computers and the modems) in place, the
user will have full access to all the public
information resources on the CiNet as well as
Internet, assuming that CiNet has full internet
connectivity.
The field units, which are the key to the
biodiversity mapping programmes, also need to
remain 'online' with the DBICs. Very often the
FSUs may be conducting surveys in remote
locations with no possibility of access to
telephone links. It is, indeed, possible to resort to
wireless data transmission to access the nearest
DBIC when such a need arise. There are, of
course, certain legalities to be sorted out in order
to realise this technical possibility because of the
restrictions imposed by the laws governing
9
wireless communication. Sometime in the near
future, mobile telephones that can be used from
any geographical location will be available. The
costs of such systems may, indeed, be rather high
at the introductory stage. When the use of such
devices becomes more widespread and cheap, the
FSUs can use it for establishing dialup links with
the DBICs.
Communication Options
The CiNet is conceived as a loose network of
organisations that can share information on a cost
sharing basis. It can make use of the different
computer networks available such as the satellite
based NICNET services using Very Small
Aperture Terminals (VSAT) and the ERNET
services based primarily on terrestrial dial up
links. ERNET, too, is expected to provide access
via VSAT soon.
There is no need to go through the whole cycle of
developing networks and physical links, since the
network can be developed using the data
communication facilities available in the public
and private sector. In a national context where
many data networks already exist, the feasible low
investment proposition is to make the best use of
existing network infrastructures on a cost sharing
basis and let the CiNet 'evolve' on its own as the
activity increase. ERNET with its vast experience
in networking can possibly play a pivotal role in
establishing the required network facilities and
CiNet can ride over the ERNET.
There are, indeed, several communication options
available. Depending on what is appropriate at
each level of the data flow, the best option has to
be exercised. The national network of DBICs and
the CNC that make up the CiNet need to be linked
by high-speed links. The VSAT based links is a
reliable option. Another possible option is to go in
for the INET facilities offered by the Department
of Telecommunications (DOT), which allows
X.25, based communications. The X.25 is the
name for a widely used network layer protocol
described by the International Standards
Organisation (ISO) and the International
Telegraph and Telephone Consultative Committee
(CCITT).
The wide area network (WAN) services can be
implemented by establishing permanent physical
connections using dedicated lines or private lines,
by circuit-switched physical connections based
on dialup links and by demand digital service
based on packet switching. A network of
networks, typically, uses packet-switching
methods. Rather than trying to establish a
dedicated communication line between two
computers located in the same or different
network, which is rather clumsy when several
computers are competing for connections, the
inter-networking typically uses packet switching
techniques. This is because packet switching
allows several computers to share communication
links, by transmitting packets of information with
an addressing system through the packet switching
circuit.
Packet switching has in-built error detection and
correction mechanisms and provides dynamic re-
routing of calls as well as interconnection of
computers/terminals at different speeds. It will be
far too expensive to build a private data network
dedicated only to CiNet activity. The facilities
provided by DOT on INET - a X.25 based Packet
Switched Public Data Network - include
permanent point-to-point connection between two
end users of the circuit or multipoint connections
between more than two end users.
Given the communication options available, the
pros and cons need to be weighed carefully. While
making the choice the following aspects are to be
considered
(a) The communication option must ensure high-
speed connectivity to major national and
international networks, particularly the
NICNET, ERNET and INTERNET
(b) The communication link should not be prone
to frequent breakdowns
(c) The recurring costs must be kept low and
(d) The communication facility must support
multiple protocols.
Some of the constituent units of a DBIC may be
linked together using modem based dialup or
leased telephone lines. The X.25 based links could
also be used when higher levels of connectivity
are needed. As network service providers,
particularly in the private sector, make their bid
for a slice of the Indian cyberspace more options
will be available for networking and CiNet itself
can possibly become a value adding, financially
self-sustaining service provider with its
10
specialised information resources.
Conclusion
The conservation of biodiversity is an enormously
complicated and difficult task requiring
information flow on an unprecedented scale. The
conservation efforts need networking of
individuals, organisations and information
systems. Co-operation and collaboration on such a
wide scale will be possible only with the support
of an appropriate information network, such as the
one presented here.
Acknowledgements
This work draws inspiration from the large scale
bioresources mapping programme articulated by
Prof. Madhav Gadgil. Author wishes to thank
K.Gopinath, Centre for Ecological Sciences,
Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, who
reviewed the manuscript and Gopi K. Garge,
Network Coordinator, ERNET, Indian Institute of
Science, Bangalore who contributed valuable
suggestions and ideas. This paper is dedicated to
my late colleague, Dr. D.F.Singh, who was
heading the Wetland Ecology Division and
working towards creating a database on the fish
diversity of the Western Ghats on CD-ROM.
References
. Pillai, J. Current Science, 1994, 66, 892-893.
. ibid.
. Chavan, V and Chandramohan, D. Current Science,
1995, 68, 273-279
. Gadgil, M. Current Science 66, 401-406.
. Canhos, D.A.L. (ed.) Proceedings of a Workshop
for the Biodiversity Information Network, Base de
Dados Tropical, Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
1994.
... In many instances, the excess of industrial affluent onto fresh water has polluted water bodies affecting the habitats of aquatic flora and fauna. In term of the urban growth, in the 1950, only 15.6% population lived in urban area in the South Asian region, but as of 2010, this has increased to over 30 Natural disasters also have threatened biodiversity. For example, in Bangladesh between 30-50% of land surface encounters flood each year (FAO, 1988;UNISDR and World Bank, 2009). ...
Article
Bare sand and semi-fixed dunes represent ideal conditions for successionally young slack habitats that support rare species of coastal dune flora. In ecologically significant and large dune systems, such as the Kenfig National Nature Reserve, UK, identification and mapping of favourable (sandy) and unfavourable (scrub-rich) habitats provide baseline information for conservation management. To map this habitat, spectral unmixing of airborne imaging spectrometer (CASI) imagery is performed using a linear mixture model and fuzzy membership functions. Results indicate that both techniques can be used successfully to map the relative proportions of sand and vegetation at the sub-pixel level.
Article
Ethnopharmacological relevance: Major research contributions in ethnopharmacology have generated vast amount of data associated with medicinal plants. Computerized databases facilitate data management and analysis making coherent information available to researchers, planners and other users. Web-based databases also facilitate knowledge transmission and feed the circle of information exchange between the ethnopharmacological studies and public audience. However, despite the development of many medicinal plant databases, a lack of uniformity is still discernible. Therefore, it calls for defining a common standard to achieve the common objectives of ethnopharmacology. Aim of the study: The aim of the study is to review the diversity of approaches in storing ethnopharmacological information in databases and to provide some minimal standards for these databases. Materials and methods: Survey for articles on medicinal plant databases was done on the Internet by using selective keywords. Grey literatures and printed materials were also searched for information. Listed resources were critically analyzed for their approaches in content type, focus area and software technology. Results: Necessity for rapid incorporation of traditional knowledge by compiling primary data has been felt. While citation collection is common approach for information compilation, it could not fully assimilate local literatures which reflect traditional knowledge. Need for defining standards for systematic evaluation, checking quality and authenticity of the data is felt. Databases focussing on thematic areas, viz., traditional medicine system, regional aspect, disease and phytochemical information are analyzed. Issues pertaining to data standard, data linking and unique identification need to be addressed in addition to general issues like lack of update and sustainability. In the background of the present study, suggestions have been made on some minimum standards for development of medicinal plant database. Conclusion: In spite of variations in approaches, existence of many overlapping features indicates redundancy of resources and efforts. As the development of global data in a single database may not be possible in view of the culture-specific differences, efforts can be given to specific regional areas. Existing scenario calls for collaborative approach for defining a common standard in medicinal plant database for knowledge sharing and scientific advancement.
Article
Full-text available
The multidisciplinary socio-economic study of fisheries in the bordering part of the Danube River between Serbia and Croatia (at the following sites: Apatin, Bačka Palanka, Bačko Novo Selo, Bezdan, and Sombor) that was performed in order to investigate various aspects of fish resource utilization (management, policy of protection and exploitation of freshwater fishery resources, present fisheries legislation, catch statistics), was realized during 2004 and 2005. Data were collected via survey with a structured interview. Socio-economic circumstances, together with ecological factors, have had an influence on the fish stock and number of commercial fishermen. Awareness of the occurring problems, both economic and ecological ones, is apparent, regardless of whether it is assessed in the field of commercial or recreational fishing. Fishery sector in Serbia is in a prolonged process of transition, with the enforcement of fishing regulations, but also the lack of control that leaves space for illegal commercial fishing. The statements, consciousness, experience and behavior of commercial fishermen represent a good basis for planning the sustainable development of fishing in this section of the Danube River.
  • J Pillai
Pillai, J. Current Science, 1994, 66, 892-893. 2. ibid.
  • V Chavan
  • D Chandramohan
Chavan, V and Chandramohan, D. Current Science, 1995, 68, 273-279
  • Chavan
  • D Chandramohan
Chavan, V and Chandramohan, D. Current Science, 1995, 68, 273-279
  • D A L Canhos
Canhos, D.A.L. (ed.) Proceedings of a Workshop for the Biodiversity Information Network, Base de Dados Tropical, Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil. 1994.