Illustrating the power of open data for understanding the natural environment


I’m preparing a talk on the value of open data for people working with the ‘natural environment’ in Scotland, and I’d like to give some simple examples of how linking different open datasets might lead to new insights in this domain.

For instance, it might be possible to show a correlation between biodiversity and some other indicator, such as farming practices, perhaps visualised as different map layers.

Does anyone know of work which has achieved interesting results by combining open datasets for the natural environment? There is some great work on on, but it seems to focus on visualising single datasets, such as bird migration.


A big thumbs up for this:

Pulls in open data from many portals and presents it in a way that allows the user to select the layers to visualise.


Yes, this is really impressive, not least in the way that the site accommodates such a wide range of data layer formats. Thanks for the pointer.


In case anyone else is interested in this topic, here are some other pointers I received.

Thanks to Jonathan Silvertown, Jack Townsend and Ross Mounce for suggestions!


We have built a prototype a while back linking data about Natura2000 site and taxon occurrences with status

J. Chabalier, O. Coullet, A. Sahl et O. Rovellotti, ecoQuery: a semantic module to query biodiversity data on the Web. Acte de la conférence « Journées Ouvertes en Biologie, Informatique et Mathématiques 2011 » (JOBIM 2011).


The following blog by Peter Desmet describes how debilitating closed datasets — that is, datasets without suitable open licensing — can be for science. His example involves bullfrog biogeography. HTH, Robbie.

Desmet, Peter (17 October 2013). Showing you this map of aggregated bullfrog occurrences would be illegal. Peter Desmet website.