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Rules of the Nordic-Baltic Grassland Vegetation Database, page 1 of 6
Nordic-Baltic Grassland Vegetation Database (NBGVD)
(GIVD code: EU-00-002)
Data Property and Governance Rules (Bylaws)
Version 03 of 26 July 2016
Discussed and approved by the current NBGVD Consortium members namely Steffen Boch, Hans Henrik
Bruun, Jürgen Dengler, Martin Diekmann, Christian Dolnik, Valentin Golub, Thomas Gregor, Aveliina
Helm, Antti Hovi, Nele Ingerpuu, Barbara Juskiewicz-Swaczyna, Brigitta Laime, Swantje Löbel, Meelis
Pärtel, Pavel Pawlikovski, Dorothee Putfarken, Solvita Rusina, Oliver Schuhmacher, Wojciech
Stachnowicz, Germund Tyler, Heinrich Wollert and Sergej Znamenskiy, on 2 August 2016.
1. Status and purpose of the Nordic-Baltic Grassland Vegetation Database
The Nordic-Baltic Grassland Vegetation Database is a collaborative initiative within the framework
of the Working Groups European Vegetation Survey (EVS), Eurasian Dry Grassland Group (EDGG) and
Ecoinformatics of the International Association for Vegetation Science (IAVS). The purpose of the
Nordic-Baltic Grassland Vegetation Database is to establish and maintain a common data repository
of vegetation-plot observations (i.e. records of plant taxon co-occurrence at particular sites,
typically sized between 0.25 and 400 m², further called relevés) of grasslands and related
vegetation types from the Nordic and Baltic region and to facilitate the use of these data for non-
commercial purposes, mainly academic research and applications in nature conservation and
ecological restoration. Further the Nordic-Baltic Grassland Vegetation Database (NBGVD) aims at
contributing its data to such analyses at subcontinental to global scales and thus is a member of the
European Vegetation Archive (EVA;, the global vegetation-plot
database sPlot ( and the
Global Index of Vegetation-Plot Databases (GIVD;
The Nordic and Baltic region is here defined as the combined territories of Denmark, Faroe Islands,
Iceland, Svalbard and Jan Mayen, Norway, Sweden, Finland, NW Russia, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia,
Lithuania, and the Pleistocene lowlands of N Poland and N Germany. The main target vegetation
types throughout the Nordic and Baltic region are all natural and semi-natural grassland s.l., namely
the vegetation classes Koelerio-Corynephoretea (incl. Sedo-Scleranthetea), Festuco-Brometea,
Trifolio-Geranietea (incl. Melampyro-Holcetea), Molinio-Arrhenatheretea, Calluno-Ulicetea (incl.
Nardetea strictae), Juncetea maritimi, Juncetea trifidi and Carici-Kobresietea. In those countries that
currently do not have a comprehensive national vegetation-plot database, any vegetation types
except forests, shrublands, mires, aquatic communities and arable fields are collected. This includes
other grassland, heathland, dune, rock, scree, alpine, saline and ruderal communities. When a
national vegetation-plot databases becomes established within the geographic scope of NBGVD, a
copy of the NBGVD data from that country will be offered to that database, provided it follows
similar rules to those at hand.
2. Consortium of the Nordic-Baltic Grassland Vegetation Database
Through contribution and inclusion of relevés, contributing persons (further: Contributors) become
members of the Consortium of the Nordic-Baltic Grassland Vegetation Database (further: NBGVD
Rules of the Nordic-Baltic Grassland Vegetation Database, page 2 of 6
Consortium), unless they wish to contribute data without NBGVD Consortium membership (only
possible for free access data). In addition, the NBGVD Consortium can appoint persons involved in
the database management but without relevé contribution as NBGVD Consortium members per
majority vote.
The NBGVD Consortium has the following functions: It (i) elects the Custodian and Deputy
Custodian, (ii) approves and potentially modifies these Rules, and (iii) has the right to appoint
database managers as NBGVD Consortium members. Moreover, the whole NBGVD Consortium has
to be informed about any intended usage of data retrieved from the NBGVD directly or indirectly.
Communication with the NBGVD Consortium is via e-mail; it thus is the responsibility of each
NBGVD Consortium member to provide the Custodian with a functioning e-mail address.
Decisions by the NBGVD Consortium (including elections) are made via electronic ballot (i.e. e-mail)
within a 14-day period by simple majority among the returned votes. In these ballots, each NBGVD
Consortium member has one, two or three votes, based on the amount of data and work he or she
contributed to the database. For that purpose, the number of relevés contributed by a certain
Contributor is counted and multiplied with a weighing factor (1 for relevés of other authors
digitised from the literature, 2 for own published relevés, 3 for own unpublished relevés). If the
resulting sum is 1999 the member has one vote, for 10002999 two votes and for 3000 three
votes. Up to two (additional) votes can be given to database managers by a decision of the NBGVD
3. Custodian and Deputy Custodian
The NBGVD is represented and governed by its Custodian and Deputy Custodian. They are elected by
the NBGVD Consortium for two-year renewable terms according to the principles given in Rule 2 for
any NBGVD Consortium decision. There is a joint election for both positions, where the candidate
with the highest number of votes becomes Custodian and the second-ranked Deputy Custodian.
Eligible are all NBGVD Consortium members, who are nominated by an NBGVD Consortium member
(including themselves) during a nomination period of at least 14 days duration. If there are as many
or fewer nominees than positions to be filled, they are automatically elected. If one of the two
functions or both become vacant, they are re-filled by an election for the remaining time of the
current term.
Custodian and Deputy Custodian are jointly coordinating the database management and serve as
contact for the NBGVD Consortium members and potential future data contributors. Further, they
ensure that the data of the NBGVD are contributed to and regularly updated in the EVA and sPlot
databases as well as the GIVD metadatabase. Finally, any data use requests from EVA, sPlot, NBGVD
Consortium members or external persons are to be sent to the Custodian, who then handles them
according to these Rules.
4. Data contributions to the NBGVD
Persons who are willing to contribute their own published or unpublished relevés or relevés of
other authors which they digitised from the literature can apply to become a member of the NBGVD
Consortium. Applications should be sent to the Custodian of the NBGVD. If the offered data are not
present in the database yet and meet the technical requirements of sampling and data storage, such
Rules of the Nordic-Baltic Grassland Vegetation Database, page 3 of 6
offers will normally be accepted. Generally data must be provided in an electronic format, but
exceptionally unpublished data in paper format will be accepted if they fill important gaps.
Within the NBGVD each individual relevé will be assigned to one natural person as the Contributor.
This could either be the person who made the relevé or the person who digitised a published relevé
of someone else. If a person or institution provides a dataset to the NBGVD to which different
persons contributed relevés, it is the obligation of the provider to assign to each relevé one single
Contributor. In case of free-access data, providers can decide that these data are to be stored
without Contributor information. It is the obligation of the data provider to provide and update the
names and contact data of the Contributors to the Custodian.
Upon inclusion of provided relevés, their Contributor becomes member of the NBGVD Consortium.
Having contributed relevés to the NBGVD does not limit other usages of these relevés by their
Contributor. Contributors are encouraged to provide data corrections and updates to the Custodian.
Unpublished data, i.e. data that do not exist in form of individual relevés in any publically accessible
print or online sources, can be withdrawn from the NBGVD by their Contributor at any time. Such a
withdrawal does only affect usages and publications that are not yet started at that point of time. If a
contributor withdraws all of his/her contributed data, his/her membership in the NBGVD
Consortium is terminated.
5. Data availability regimes
At the time of data submission or update, each Contributor assigns one of the following data
availability regimes to the data contributed by him/her, either for the whole dataset or its individual
Regime 1: Restricted-access data are available for members of the NBGVD Consortium only, and
their use depends on the explicit permission of the respective Contributor. The Contributor must be
contacted any time when there is a request to use these data. The terms of data use must be
negotiated in each specific case.
Regime 2: Semi-restricted-access data are available for members of the NBGVD Consortium only, but
without the need for a specific permission in each single case. The Contributor will be informed by
the Custodian or Deputy-Custodian at least 10 days before the release of data. If no objection is
raised during this period, this will be considered as implicit permission to use these data for the
particular purpose.
Regime 3: Free-access data are available to a wider community of users. These data can be released
based on the proposal to the Custodian, with no need for approval by the Contributor.
Unpublished relevés made by the Contributor himself/herself can be assigned to any of the three
regimes, while relevés that have been published before can only be assigned to Regimes 2 or 3. The
NBGVD initiative encourages a gradual transfer of data in the NBGVD from Regime 1 to Regime 3,
however, the decision on such transfers is entirely with the Contributors.
Rules of the Nordic-Baltic Grassland Vegetation Database, page 4 of 6
6. Direct data requests and terms of data use
Individuals or groups of individuals who would like to use the NBGVD data for research or
application purposes must submit a proposal to the Custodian describing the aims, basic methods
and an approximate delineation of the data set they require. With respect to data under Regimes 1
and 2 only proposals submitted by NBGVD Consortium members will be considered. Other persons
may ask for these data provided their request is approved by one of the NBGVD Consortium
The proposal should contain (1) applicant’s name and address, (2) project title, (3) brief description
of aims and methods of the study, (4) estimated time of delivery of results, e.g. manuscript
submission, (5) specification of the data needed (geographic area described as countries, counties
or range of geographic coordinates, vegetation type or other selection criteria), (6) envisaged
publications, (7) proposal how to handle the authorship in publications based on the data from the
NBGVD, (8) explicit statement that the applicant agrees with these Rules.
For incoming proposals, the Custodian and Deputy Custodian will jointly check (1) whether the
applicant is eligible to obtain data according to these Rules, and if so, (2) whether there is a
reasonable link between the aims, expected outputs and data requested, and (3) whether these
Rules are respected. If these initial assessments were positive, the Custodian or Deputy Custodian
will send the request to all Contributors whose relevés are concerned, listing the requested relevés,
together with information to which data availability regime they belong. Within three weeks after
such a request has been sent out, contributors of Regime-1 data can agree to provide their data and
those of Regime-2 data disagree with their usage in this particular case. After the deadline and
based on the received answers of the Contributors, NBGVD will release the available data to the
authors of the proposal.
The Custodian and Deputy Custodian (possibly together with other NBGVD Consortium members
involved in the database management) will make efforts to deliver the data as fast as possible,
however, the speed of this service may be affected by the available labour force and funding. Upon
data delivery the applicants should deliver the result (e.g. a manuscript ready for submission) to the
Custodian and Deputy-Custodian within two years. After this time they lose their mandate to use the
data unless they ask for extension and get it granted. Custodian and Deputy Custodian are entitled
to ask for the progress of projects using NBGVD data at any point of time. Each publication and
conference contribution using NBGVD data must be sent to the Custodian and Deputy-Custodian
before submission for a check whether the data were used in accordance with these Rules. This
check will not deal with the scientific quality of the manuscript and the Custodian and Deputy-
Custodian will keep any information contained in the manuscript as confidential until the paper is
The applicants are not allowed to pass any data obtained from the NBGVD (including those under
Regime 3) to third parties or use them for other purposes than stated in the original proposal. Data
obtained from the NBGVD can be used for non-commercial purposes only and the final product
(publication, report, software application) should contain a proper citation of the original data
sources (or at least main sources if there are many sources, possibly in an electronic appendix) and
of the NBGVD database. Recommended references will be provided by the Custodian and Deputy-
The titles of projects that have received data from the NBGVD, together with the names of
applicants, can be published on a NBGVD website. The applicants will send the papers based on the
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NBGVD data to the Custodian upon their publication; links to these papers can be added to a NBGVD
website. The applicants are encouraged to report any errors found in the data to the custodians of
the original databases.
7. Authorship
For report-style papers (“data papers”) about the philosophy, content and functionality of the
NBGVD, including, but not restricted to, Long and Short Database Reports in Phytocoenologia or
another journal, all members of the NBGVD Consortium will be offered co-authorship, regardless the
extent of their contribution (in terms of data or paper writing).
Authorship of papers or reports (“research papers”) based on data received directly from the
NBGVD will be based on the authorship arrangement proposed by the lead author (applicant) that
has been, possibly after modification following an individual negotiation, accepted by Contributors
of Regime-1 data by explicit agreement and by Contributors of Regime-2 data implicitly by not
objecting within the deadline.
The recommended good practice for the applicants is that they should offer co-authorship of
research papers at least to those Contributors whose contributed data (1) account for more than
10% of the final dataset used in the particular project or (2) are particularly important for the
project result (e.g. they represent a unique vegetation type or geographic area which is not
documented in other sources as well as Custodian, Deputy-Custodian or database managers when
they were significantly involved in data preparation. Becoming co-author implies the possibility as
well as the expectation to contribute to the general concept of the product, data analysis and/or
interpretation of the results. When in doubt, an inclusive, rather than a restrictive criterion should
be applied.
8. Data contributions to and data usages by EVA and sPlot
All data contained in the NBGVD will be regularly uploaded into the European Vegetation Archive
(EVA) with the same data availability regimes as within the NBGVD itself. To the sPlot database,
which has only one uniform data availability regime similar to semi-restricted access, data of the
Regimes 2 and 3 will be uploaded plus those of Regime 1 where the Contributors explicitly agreed
with that.
Details of data usage and availability of data from the NBGVD obtained via EVA or sPlot are
regulated by the EVA Data Property and Governance Rules (
rules.pdf) and the Governance and Data Property Rules of the sPlot Working Group (http://www.idiv-
Rules_approved.pdf), respectively, and can deviate from the Rules applicable for data directly
retrieved from the NBGVD.
When EVA or sPlot are preparing data papers about their content, the acting Custodian (and if
possible also the Deputy-Custodian) will become co-authors of these on behalf of the NBGVD
Consortium. Announcements of intended data usage for research papers from EVA or sPlot will be
received by the Custodian and forwarded to the whole NBGVD Consortium. These information mails
will contain an outline which relevés are concerned (normally with a list identifying relevé IDs, their
data availability regimes and their Contributors) and specification of potential co-authorship offers.
Rules of the Nordic-Baltic Grassland Vegetation Database, page 6 of 6
In the case of EVA, Contributors of Regime-1 data have the possibility to agree with use of their data
in that specific case and Contributors of Regime-2 data can decline the use of their data in that case,
both by response to the Custodian within the set deadline. No such possibility exists in the case of
sPlot. Also within the deadline, NBGVD Consortium members can announce their wish to become
active co-authors of paper projects announced by EVA or sPlot, preferably supported with a
statement of possible contributions (beyond the raw data). The Custodian or Deputy-Custodian will
forward such applications to the lead author of the respective paper. In case there are more
applicants for co-authorship in a specific paper project than the lead author is willing to accept
(based on the EVA or sPlot Rules, respectively), the NBGVD Consortium will assign the co-
authorship option considering (a) fractional contribution of data in that particular case; (b) specific
expertise or interests, and (c) balance among NBGVD Consortium members, considering also
previous authorship assignments. Custodian and Deputy Custodian will jointly propose a solution
for this, but if this solution is not agreed upon by all interested parties, a decision will be taken with
majority vote in the whole Consortium.
9. Data management
Custodian and Deputy-Custodian are responsible for the data management of the NBGVD. They can
appoint additional database managers when needed. Data management comprises four major fields:
(i) maintaining a file with names, contact data and voting weights for all NBGVD Consortium
members; (ii) setting-up, maintaining and updating the NBGVD in Turboveg format, including for
each relevé information on its Contributor, type of data (own unpublished, own published, digitised
from literature), data availability regime and, in case of Regime 1, whether the data can be
contributed to sPlot; (iii) registering the NBGVD in GIVD and keeping the metadata there up-to-date;
and (iv) providing the data to EVA and sPlot, including updates when appropriate.
10. Relationship with GIVD
The Nordic-Baltic Grassland Vegetation Database is permanently registered in GIVD under the code
EU-00-002 (former name: Database Dry Grasslands in the Nordic and Baltic Region). The Custodian
and Deputy-Custodian will update the information on the NBGVD in GIVD whenever appropriate.
Once the size threshold for publication of a GIVD-approved Long Database Report in the
international journal Phytocoenologia is reached, the Custodian and Deputy-Custodian will, together
with all NBGVD Consortium members, prepare and submit such a paper for publication. Whenever
data from the NBGVD are used, whether retrieved directly or via EVA or sPlot, as a minimum
requirement, this Long Database Report shall be cited as reference for the data source together with
the unique GIVD code of the NBGVD. Prior to the publication of the new Long Database Report, the
current Short Database Report should be used as reference instead (Dengler, J. & Rūsiņa, S. 2012.
Database Dry Grasslands in the Nordic and Baltic Region. Biodiversity & Ecology 4: 319320.).
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