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Improving Data Availability for Conservation Decisions.

Conservation and management of species and ecosystems in Canada requires sharing of relevant data and information to facilitate effective, informed decisions. Consistent approaches to management and distribution of species and ecosystems data and information should enable improved data-sharing, a more consistent and complete information base for conservation actions and ultimately improved conservation decisions. They should improve the flow of data and information among agencies, organizations and their clients and reduce the scope of data and information with various forms of restricted access. NatureServe Canada has recently led a diverse working group of agencies and organizations to develop consistent, harmonized approaches to the collection, management and distribution of species and ecosystems data and information.

The Working Group included representatives from the following agencies and organizations:

  • Ontario Natural Heritage Information Centre
  • Yukon Conservation Data Centre
  • Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre
  • British Columbia Conservation Data Centre
  • New Brunswick Species at Risk Program
  • Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC)
  • COSEWIC Secretariat
  • NatureServe Canada
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada
    • Species at Risk Program
    • Migratory Birds Program
    • Data Management Program
  • Birds Canada
  • Recovery of Nationally Endangered Wildlife (RENEW)
  • Parks Canada Agency
  • Boreas Ecological

These approaches are contained within Data Security Template Policy and Procedures. The Data Security Template Policy and Procedures include several mandatory components and a suite of optional components that reflect the diversity of governance needs within agencies and organizations that collect, manage and distribute data on species and ecosystems in Canada. They have been developed such that they can be adopted and tailored by agencies and organizations to meet their regulatory and governance environment but still ensure consistent, harmonized approaches.

The Data Security Template Policy and Procedures are intended to be living documents. They will be updated and improved with learnings from efforts by agencies and organizations that adopt and implement them.

Introductory Document

Policy Document

Procedures Document

Project Overview Presentation

Implementation Guidance (FAQ)

Data Security Procedures Guidance

NatureServe Canada is working to assist organizations who would like to learn more and participate in this initiative that aims to facilitate the sharing of biodiversity information. We are currently able to offer support to organizations that are interested in adopting and implementing the Policy and Procedures.

Progress Update May 6, 2024

The Yukon Government's Fish and Wildlife Branch officially adopted their Data Sharing Policy. The document was developed using the NatureServe Canada template policy and guidance from NatureServe Canada. Branch staff have taken part in training sessions and the implementation of the policy is underway.

NatureServe Canada has developed two products to support implementation of the template Data Security Policy and Procedures. These are an Implementation Guidance Document – essentially a set of learnings presented in the form of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), and a presentation that provides guidance for implementation of two procedures: Identifying Elements Susceptible to Harm and Determining a Client’s Business Case for Access to Sensitive Ecological Data. Both the Implementation Guidance Document and the Guidance Presentation are available on NatureServe Canada’s Data Security web page (links provided above).

NatureServe Canada is continuing to adapt the template policy and procedures to its own governance and working environment to ensure that its management and distribution of data are consistent with these approaches. NatureServe Canada has developed a draft policy and procedures based on the templates. NatureServe Canada is currently conducting its data management business within the intent of the template policy and procedures until such time as its own policy and procedures are finalized and approved.

NatureServe Canada is working with the BC Data and Information Security Committee. BC Data and Information Security Committee has drafted revisions to its existing policy and procedures to adopt important components from the NatureServe Canada templates. NatureServe Canada is providing support and guidance in the review process.

NatureServe Canada is still working with the Manitoba Conservation Data Centre to facilitate the adoption of the template policies and procedures to its working environment. This has included a regulatory risk assessment – standard practice for most jurisdictions in Canada contemplating substantive policy initiatives. Manitoba CDC has developed a draft policy and has initiated the required a legal risk assessment. NatureServe Canada is currently working with Manitoba CDC on the development of procedures to accompany the policy.

NatureServe Canada will continue to support agencies and organizations that we are currently working with and will engage with new jurisdictions in the remainder of the 2023-2024 fiscal to assist them in exploring how the template policies and procedures would provide consistency and structure to the management of sensitive ecological data.

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