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TESS, a forerunner to pro-iBiosphere
Iliyana Kuzmova
Prof. Robert E. Kenward

Prof. Robert E. Kenward [1]

A project to design a Transactional Environmental Support System ( preceded pro-iBiosphere during 2008-1011. TESS, of which partners were mostly linked to the Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Group of IUCN (, recognised the need for information on species and habitats to inform policy, but also at local level for management of land and sustainable use. TESS surveyed information needs at EU level, national governments, local communities at lowest government administrative level and stakeholders. The surveys not only showed biodiversity information requirements in detail, but also found a "decision density" five magnitudes higher for local managers of land and species (in farms, forests, fisheries, hunting areas and nature reserves) than for statutory environmental assessments (SEA+EIA).

To make decisions that are good for nature, there is scope for internet exchange (transaction) of science-based decision support (from high level) for the detailed data needed to make those local decisions (but also needed for policy-making at higher level). For effective exchange, data needs to be open access, standardised in format and highly detailed (accurate and at high resolution), i.e. aspirations of pro-iBiosphere. Case studies showed that local communities were highly capable of collecting appropriate data, but that thousands of models for science-based decision support included only 10 suitable for local use, at most in two languages!

This information was of special relevance for one of the pro-iBiosphere workshops in October 2013, Workshop on User Engagement and Benefits, showing in particular the importance of delivering Faunas, Floras and Mycotas for local people to record biodiversity. Identifying and reporting species needs to be made simple and multilingual for users other than experts, which could involve smart-phone apps for image-recognition and database-linking.

As part of its surveys, TESS established a portal ( to signpost relevant information and encourage collection by local interests. Naturalliance is advised by major international NGOs at European and Global level, is now in 23 languages and, to encourage sustainable use of land and biodiversity, and is working with national governments on a new system to encourage systematic local participation in data exchange. Experience with funding these systems, which could signpost a one-stop-shop for identification/reporting apps, or even host the downloading, was shared during the meeting on 10 October 2013 to evaluate business models currently in use by partners and relevant non-partners.

[1] Vice-chair (Europe) of IUCN Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group


The Naturalliance Portal developed by IUCN-SULi during the TESS project.
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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No 312848