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Background

The need to have information on nature conservation geo-referenced and available at the EU level has grown in recent years due to a trend by European park authorities to develop management rules that respect the natural boundaries rather than the administrative ones, which often implies an international approach, as well as the establishment of Natura 2000 Network as per the "Habitats" and "Birds" Directives (92/43/EEC and 79/409/EEC respectively).

Moreover, the multi-disciplinary approach to environmental issues, as required for instance by the Environmental Assessment procedures of projects and infrastructures, implies the management of seamless geo-information in the different application fields. An example is given by the "assessment of implications" that, according to Art. 6 of the Habitats Directive must be carried out to evaluate short-term and long-term impacts of a project (e.g. a railway) on a protected site through detailed studies which, in most cases, require the comparison of different datasets such as protected sites boundaries, habitats, species distribution, water bodies and designed railway.

In such a context, Public Administrations and Park Authorities in Europe have plenty of data and databases created for management needs at local, regional or national level that, for the reasons above, should be made available and re-usable at the EU level through the use of common standards and interoperable services.