NatureServe and the Network of natural heritage programs and conservation data centers are the recognized leaders for providing decision-quality distribution and abundance data for at-risk species and ecosystems. Our focus has been on Network-collected occurrence data that identifies key locations of demonstrable conservation value for those species and ecosystems. Now, with increasing pressures on biodiversity, there is an increasing need for rapid and more comprehensive biodiversity assessments, and there is an increasing volume of observation data available from citizen science and other data collection efforts across the globe. We have reached a critical moment where we must bring together as much relevant data as possible to address rising conservation challenges. To meet this need, we require a straightforward and flexible standard for collecting and compiling biodiversity observation data across the Network and from external sources.
To create the standard, we convened a working group of individuals from multiple Network programs and NatureServe. The group built on previous NatureServe draft standards and consulted closely with Darwin Core. We sought input from and updated the Section Councils throughout the process.
With this standard, NatureServe and the Network are in a better position to put the most current, complete, and consistent biodiversity data into the hands of researchers and decision makers. It will leverage Network data by facilitating the derivation of a wide range of products beyond that of Element Occurrences, including inputs to habitat suitability models, gridded occurrence or hotspot maps, conservation plans, and species and ecosystem assessments. The Standard will continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of the Network as we address pressing conservation challenges.