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JOINT RESEARCH CENTRE
eCONSERVATION

Methodology

eConservation: FAQs

Disclaimer

The JRC makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. In no event the European Commission will we be liable for any damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this website.

 

0. What is eConservation and what can it be used for?

The interactive mapping application named eConservation allows a wide range of end-users to see “who is doing what and where” in biodiversity conservation funding. The web application allows users to browse for projects by their location, category, timeframe, budget, and organisations involved in a way that users can easily gather information at various geographical levels, such as site, protected area and country level. Our intention for a future version of the eConservation application is that it can be used for measuring, monitoring, reporting or evaluating biodiversity related funding.

 

1. Type and source of project data in eConservation

What type of project data does eConservation seek to include?

The eConservation database seeks to include data on biodiversity related projects funded by big public donors such as the European Union (EU), World Bank, Global Environment Facility (GEF), and other key multilateral and bilateral agencies. Where applicable, we use the Rio marker for biodiversity related development finance to identify relevant projects, i.e. aid activities targeting biodiversity as a principal or significant objective. The Rio marker for biodiversity was introduced in 1998 as a statistical policy marker to facilitate monitoring and reporting of development finance supporting the objectives of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

 

What are the sources for project data currently included in eConservation?

The current eConservation 1.0 version includes several subsets of project data from the European Union (EU) and World Bank project data from 2010-2015.The EU data includes projects of the LIFE Programme, since 1992 the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action, which is managed by the European Commission, and we recently processed project data from EuropeAid and BEST Initiative,  and project data from the World Bank.

 

How was the project data included in eConservation obtained?

The project data currently shown in eConservation was obtained directly from the different data providers or downloaded from their websites. The data on projects of the EU LIFE Programme, BEST Initiative and EuropeAid was provided by the responsible European Commission. The project data from the World Bank was downloaded from their website. Regardless of how data is obtained, all data has to undergo our pre-processing procedure.

 

How is the project data in eConservation updated?

We distinguish regular updates that involve migrating pre-processed project data from our pipeline into the eConservation database and application, from the acquisition of new and/or updated project datasets from our data providers. The details of the latter are still subject to discussions and are likely to differ for different data providers. Regardless of how updates will be obtained, all data has to undergo our pre-processing procedure.

 

2. Minimum information requirements

What is the minimum information required for a project to be included in the eConservation database and application?

The minimum information required includes: project title, start date, end date, target countries, total budget, currency, donor, implementing agencies, data provider, and georeferenced project sites (e.g. targeted protected areas). Additional information can include: project description, link to project website, project partners, conservation action types, and target species.

 

3. Pre-processing of project data

How is the project data pre-processed before inclusion in the eConservation database and application?

The project data obtained from data providers usually has to be pre-processed in various ways before it can be included in the eConservation database and interface. Pre-processing includes checking and cleaning of datasets, transformation to different data formats, geo-referencing, and classification of conservation action types.

How are project sites geo-referenced, and how reliable are the geolocations?

All project data in eConservation is linked to one or more geo-referenced project sites. Where the project data obtained from data providers does not include geolocations, we geo-reference the project site(s) based on the available information (project title, description, document(s), etc.), following a standard procedure which we adapted from the UCDP and AidData codebook on geo-referencing aid.

The first step is to search for protected areas in the project documentation; if one or more project sites are located inside a protected area, the site is geo-referenced using the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA).

If a project site is not located inside a protected area, the coordinates of the site are determined through GeoNames, an online service containing names and coordinates of various administrative divisions, populated places, and other geographical features. In some cases, where the coordinates of the project site were not available through GeoNames, Google Maps engine was used.

Projects that do not specify locations are georeferenced to the location of the country’s capital city, assuming that the projects are implemented at a country level. We use a standard set of precision categories to give an indication of the accuracy of the geolocation assigned to each project site (see “How does eConservation record the precision of geolocations?”).

 

How does eConservation record the precision of geolocations?

When geo-referencing project data, we use a standard set of precision categories to assign an accuracy level to each geo-located project site. For the purpose of eConservation we adapted the precision categories, shown in the table below, proposed in the UCDP and AidData codebook on geo-referencing aid. Please note that the order of the categories (and their codes) does not reflect increasing or decreasing accuracy. The missing numbers indicate categories we do not use.

 

Category

Description

1

The coordinates correspond to an exact location, such as a populated place or a hill. The code is also used for locations that join a location which is a line (such as a road or railroad). Lines are not coded, only the points that connect lines. All points that are mentioned in the source are coded.

2

The location is mentioned in the source as being “near”, in the “area” of, or up to 25km away from an exact location. The coordinates refer to that adjacent, exact, location.

3

The location is, or lies in, a second order administrative division (ADM2), such as a district, municipality or commune.

4.1

The location is an entire first order administrative division (ADM1), such as a province, state or governorate.

4.2

The location is within a first order administrative division (ADM1), such as a province, state or governorate, but the location within the ADM1 is unknown.

5

The location can only be related to estimated coordinates, such as when a location lies between populated places; along rivers, roads, and borders; more than 25 km away from a specific location; or when sources refer to parts of a country greater than ADM1 (e.g. “northern Uganda”).

6

The location can only be related to an independent political entity, meaning the pair of coordinates that represent a country. In eConservation such projects are mapped to the location of the country’s capital city.

10

The location is a protected area listed in the World Database of Protected Areas (WDPA) (available at: www.protectedplanet.net/).

 

How are projects classified into conservation action types?

Based on the available information (project title, description, document (s), etc.), we classify projects into different conservation action types, using the classification scheme developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Conservation Measures Partnership (CMP) (see also Salafsky et al. 2008). This scheme distinguishes seven major action types, which form the basis for our classification:

1) Land/water protection,

2) Land/water management,

3) Species management,

4) Education and awareness,

5) Law and policy,

6) Livelihood, economic and other incentives, and

7) External capacity building.

Projects can be assigned to multiple themes. The category 8 is introduced for projects that cannot be assigned/reviewed. 

 

4. Monetary units, exchange rates and project budgets

What is the monetary unit used to display project budgets and total funding amounts in eConservation?

All budgets and amounts in the eConservation interface are shown in current (or nominal) USD, which means they simply represent the values as they were at the time, without taking into account inflation. If the original project budgets were in a currency other than USD, we converted them into USD using the historical exchange rates valid at the start date of the project.

 

Which conversion rates have been used to convert non-USD project budgets into USD?

If the original project budgets were in a currency other than USD, we converted them into USD using the historical exchange rates valid at the start date of the project. For this we use the World Bank indicator “Official exchange rate (Local Currency Unit (LCU) per US$, period average)” available here. For projects of the EU LIFE Programme, BEST Initiative and EuropeAid, that started in 1990-1998, i.e. before the EUR became the official currency of the European Monetary Union (EMU) members, we used the official EUR-USD exchange rate of 1999 because we received the whole dataset of the EU LIFE Programme in EUR.

 

How are project budgets spread across multiple years?

If a project covers multiple years, the total project budget is spread evenly across all these years. Example: For a USD 20 million project started in 2011 and finished in 2015 (5 years), we allocate USD 4 million to each year.

 

How are project budgets split between multiple target countries and/or project sites (including protected areas)?

The project budgets are not divided by geographical entities: At the country level, we currently show simply the sum of all project budgets, although some of these project budgets may be shared with other countries.

At the protected area level, we currently show the average project budget; for example, USD 20 million for a protected area with two projects of USD 30 million and USD 10 million respectively. At the project site level, we show the total project budget, although this may be shared with other project sites.

 

5. Key limitations for using eConservation

What are some of the limitations of the total funding amounts shown in eConservation?

The total funding amounts shown in eConservation (e.g. for a target country or protected area) are indicative only and should be interpreted with care for several reasons. As explained elsewhere, eConservation captures only biodiversity related projects funded by big public donors, thus not specifically mentioning the substantial biodiversity funding coming from sources such as national government budgets, non-governmental organizations, and private donors. Even for big public donors, it will take time for eConservation to provide a more comprehensive picture of the funding provided by each donor, and for the moment we only include a small number of big public donors. Users should also take into account the FAQs section Monetary units, exchange rates and project budgets and the eConservation disclaimer.

 

What can eConservation not be used for?

The information included in this website should be used for demonstration purposes only. It highlights the potential of eConservation to allow a wide range of end-users to see “who is doing what and where” through an interactive mapping application. However, due to its incompleteness, the current version of eConservation should not be used for measuring, monitoring, reporting or evaluating biodiversity related funding. In no event the European Commission will we be liable for any damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this website.

 

Acronyms used in eConservation

  • AidData - AidData Center for Development Policy
  • BEST – EU Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Territories of European overseas
  • CBD - UN Convention on Biological Diversity
  • CMP - Conservation Measures Partnership - see also Salafsky et al. 2008
  • EDF - European Development Fund
  • EU - European Union
  • EuropeAid - The Commission's Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) is responsible for designing European international cooperation and development policy and delivering aid throughout the world
  • GEF - Global Environment Facility
  • GeoNames - online service containing names and coordinates of various administrative divisions, populated places, and other geographical features.
  • IUCN - International Union for Conservation of Nature
  • LCU - Local Currency Unit
  • LIFE - EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action (L’Instrument Financier pour l’Environnement)
  • ODA - Official Development Assistance
  • PA - Protected Areas
  • UCDP - Uppsala Conflict Data Program
  • USD – US Dollar
  • WB - World Bank
  • WDPA - World Database on Protected Areas: www.protectedplanet.net/