One of the National Biodiversity Data Centre’s strategic objectives is to serve as national hub for the storage, display and dissemination of biodiversity data through the online portal Biodiversity Maps.

In order to achieve this, data publishers are invited to share their biological data with the National Biodiversity Data Centre so that we can all as a collaborative community benefit from the expanded knowledge base on Ireland’s biological diversity and increased availability of data for decision-making, planning, conservation management and research.


Biodiversity Maps
At the end of 2019, 148 datasets were published through Biodiversity Maps by partners from both the public and private sectors. The list of datasets and data providers can be viewed by clicking on this image.


How do you share data with the National Biodiversity Data Centre?


1. Metadata and occurrence records – we need both
  • Detailed metadata for your dataset should be documented in the following file: Metadata standard (.xls)
  • Species occurrence records and basic metadata for your dataset should be documented in the following file: Species Occurrence Record Upload Template (.xls)

Metadata describes who collected it, why it was collected, how it can be used and methods used to collect it. It is important to complete as it provides the information a user needs to assess whether the data are fit for their intended use. If your dataset is uploaded to Biodiversity Maps, this metadata will be made available to all Biodiversity Maps users when they view the dataset.

Species occurrence records are submitted using a strict data standard which makes it mandatory to submit the following pieces of information. These data items must be provided in order for the species observation to constitute a valid biological record:

Recorder name The name of the person(s) that made the observation
Species name The scientific name of the recorded species to the species or taxon level
Location name Name of location where observation was made (townland or nearest village)
Coordinates A latitude / longitude reference in decimel degrees in two separate columns, or a six-figure grid reference, employing three digits in each coordinate (public resolution of the data is at the discretion of the data provider)
Date The date that the observation was recorded. The minimum legal value is the year. The following data format is preferable: dd/mm/yyyy. You may also supply the date as a range where the exact date is unavailable. In such a case please provide a start date and a finish date.


Additional data fields can also be used where appropriate if it suits your own data. Please refer to the following Standard for Record Attributes (.xls) for a list of recommended additional data fields that may apply to your data. Any other information can be included in the comments field.


2. Consider the size of the dataset

Ascertain whether or not your dataset is large enough to warrant an upload. Usually, only datasets of 100 species occurrence records or more are accepted. Otherwise, we ask data contributors to submit their data to the Centre by using Ireland’s Citizen Science Portal. This is not a strict rule however, and certain exceptions can be made. Please contact staff at the Centre if you wish to discuss sharing a dataset that is less than 100 species occurrence records in size.


3. Consider how you wish to licence your data

All data within the National Biodiversity Database have an associated licence, which give specific instruction on how the data may or may not be used. How the data is licensed is at the discretion of the data provider. The types of licenses found in Biodiversity Maps include:

  • Creative Commons Licence with Attribution (CC-BY). Data available under this licence can be used for any purpose and allows users to share and/or adapt the data but only if appropriate credit is given to the data provider. Users must also provide a link to the licence and indicate if any changes have been made. More information can be found on the Creative Commons website.
  • Restricted. Data available under this licence can only be viewed on Biodiversity Maps, but access to the data for downloading is not permitted. In other words, the National Biodiversity Data Centre does not have permission to enable download of datasets published under a restricted licence. Requests for these datasets need to be submitted directly to the data provider.

In line with international best practice, the Data Centre is moving towards making as much as possible of the data available as open data, licensed under Creative Commons with attribution (CC-BY).


The benefits of sharing open data

Sharing biological data is central to our national and collective effort to learn about and understand Ireland’s biodiversity and it is critical to all decision-making about nature and the environment. Information on Ireland’s wildlife that is openly shared via the National Biodiversity Data Centre can help to support research, education, conservation and policy formation, to name just a few applications, and is a practice which is fully endorsed by the National Biodiversity Data Centre.


Sharing species occurrence records with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)

GBIF is an open-data global research infrastructure for sharing biological data. The National Biodiversity Data Centre is the national node in Ireland for GBIF and any data that is licensed CC-BY enables the Centre to share these data with GBIF.

The benefit of sharing data with GBIF is that it increases the number of people worldwide who are able to find and potentially use the data, largely for research purposes. Many of these analyses cover topics from the impacts of climate change and the spread of invasive and alien pest species to priorities for conservation and protected areas, food security and human health. Such research would not be possible without open access to datasets from Ireland and other participant countries around the world within the GBIF network.


Science Review 2019 GBIF
GBIF’s annual compilation of peer-reviewed papers that use data published through GBIF’s global infrastructure in scientific research. Click on this image to visit GBIF’s Science Review webpage.