Biodiversity Observation Networks (BONs) that are formally connected to GEO BON can be national (e.g. Colombia), regional (e.g. the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program) or thematic (e.g. Marine BON) in scope. The role of the Biodiversity Observations Networks is to develop, apply and test the concepts, methods and tools to implement and enhance operational networks; collecting observations and providing data to the community and users. In this capacity, they are recipients of the outputs of the EBV Working Groups (e.g. EBV monitoring frameworks and tools) but also contributors via the development and contribution of useful tools for EBV generation and application at national, regional and thematic scales. This two way interaction via the GEO BON network serves to continually improve the process by which BONs are designed and implemented. To further support the development of Biodiversity Observation Networks, Colombia’s Humboldt Institute, on behalf of GEO BON, has led on developing the first prototype of BON in a Box: Improving Capacity for Biodiversity Conservation. BON in a Box is a customizable and continually updated online toolkit that connects scientists and tool developers around the world and lowers the threshold for the start-up or enhancement of a national, regional or local biodiversity observation system. It serves as a technology transfer and capacity building mechanism that ensures researchers around the world have access to the latest technologies and can build and implement biodiversity observation systems that are interoperable using international standards4.

BON in a Box is primarily designed to serve the needs and interests of national governments and institutions who need high quality biodiversity data to inform their domestic and international reporting requirements and conservation commitments. The beta version of BON in a Box is accessible online:

BON in a Box is being continually updated with a full version ready since the end of 2016 and is being used to support the development of a national BON in Colombia.

About BON Development

Maria Cecilia Londoño
Humboldt Institute, Colombia

Mike Gill
GEO BON, Canada

Petteri Vihervaara
Finnish Environment Institute SYKE
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Key objectives

The development of Biodiversity Observation Networks, or BONs, will be carried out by the BON Development Working Group. The Key Objectives of the WG are to facilitate the development or enhancement of BONs across different scales and themes by working with the BONs and EBV Working Groups to:

  1. Identify, document and deliver best practices in the process of development and implementation of existing and developing BONs and using them as examples for other BONs development and enhancement;
  2. Provide a flexible framework for designing a user-driven BON recognizing the diversity of objectives and users from different BONs;
  3. Work with the EBV Working Groups and EBV Framework Task Force in the development of guidelines for applying the EBV framework for BON development and utilize national, regional and global pilots.
  4. Provide easy access to state-of-the-art tools for biodiversity observations and EBV implementation.
  5. Promote and facilitate cooperation and communication for knowledge and technology transfer between national and thematic BONs.

To meet the above objectives will require the BON Development Working Group keeping the BON and the EBV Working Groups fully aware of each other’s progress and providing a conduit by which the outputs of these developments can be applied via BON development guidance and frameworks and via BON in a Box.

Our approach to guiding the development and/or enhancement of a national, regional or thematic biodiversity observation network involves three key approaches and core activities:

  1. Developing a Consistent but Flexible Biodiversity Observation Network Design Process
  2. Strengthening Biodiversity Observation Networks through improved discovery, access and use of best practices and tools for biodiversity observation
  3. Building communities of practice for BON development and EBV operationalization at national and regional scales
1. Developing a Flexible Framework for BON Design
Lead Mike Gill
Partners TBD
Description This activity will be organized in three tasks:

  1. BON Development Manual:
    This manual would document best practices in the development and implementation of BONs. It
    would build upon the 9-step design process and draw from the proposed paper for evaluating existing
    BONs. This would be a more detailed extension of the GEO Handbook on Biodiversity Observations.
  2. Ensuring BONs support IPBES Assessments:
    BON Position paper presenting the idea of integration between IPBES assessment and GEOBON
    Observation Systems and stating what is needed to contribute from BONs to IPBES. This would include
    the idea of integrating the PSBIR model to BON design.
  3. Assessment of existing BONs:
    This task will have three core objectives:

    • The development of an interactive map on the GEO BON website indicating key attributes including EBVs used
    • The production of a paper on the current state of BONs: review of their maturity, (spatiotemporal) data coverage, resources, key ecosystems, readiness to apply remote sensing data for monitoring etc.

    The identification of current efforts collecting simple but useful biodiversity observations across BONs and participating nations, and which of these observations could be considered an EBV candidate.

Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables Manuscript on the support of BONs forIPBES Assessments is submitted Delivery of the BON Development manual
Resources Funding needed for the organisation of a workshop on the BON Development Manual Funding needed for publication costs
Link with other WG, BONs, TF BON Development Manual: Include BONs (national, regional and thematic in its production), select test cases and ask the EBV WGs to write specific sections for BON design to serve specific EBVs. Ensuring BONs support IPBES Assessments: Use the Colombian BON process as the basis for this paper and bring in key GEO BON/IPBES members for development.
2. Development of BON in a Box
Lead Maria Cecilia Londoño
Team/Partners Mike Gill, Eduarso Dalcin, Peter Benton, Andrew Skowno, GEO BON MC
Description This core activity will be organized in four tasks:

  1. Preparation of the BON in a Box paper:
    This task will lead to the production of a concept paper presenting Bon in a Box, and describing the
    functionalities of version 2.0.
  2. BON in a Box Version 1.0:
    The group will produce Guidelines for the selection of tools for BON in a Box. This implies
    communication with WG, thematic BONs and tools providers to identify the tools to be included,
    review and edition of tools metadata for incorporating in the database of Bon in a Box. Working
    Groups and BONs will be asked for a full update on the available tools that they selected for the
  3. Communication Strategy and Business Plan:
    This task will develop a plan to promote the discovery and use of BON in a Box and a plan that details
    its ongoing maintenance and confirms roles and responsibilities in this regard.
  4. Development of BON in a Box version 2.0:
    This task will develop the necessary upgrades to the search interface to allow for more functionality
    for the users of the platform.
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables Publication of the BON in a Box concept paper. All selected tools are added to the online platform Release of BON in a Box version 2.0
Resources Support hired by the Humboldt institute to help in the management and incorporation of tools in the version 1.0 Financial resources needed to develop the version 2.0 of BON in a Box Financial resources needed to develop the version 2.0 of BON in a Box
Link with other activities By nature, this activity will involve interactions with all WGs and BONs in order to identify the relevant tools, and review their metadata. This activity will be also supported by the Policy TF.
3. Building communities of practice for BON development
Lead Petteri Vihervaara
Team/Partners Andrew Skowno, Mao-Ning Tuanmu, Peter Benton, Eduardo Dalcin, Mike Gill
Description The main aim of this activity is to build communities of practice for BON development and EBV
operationalization at national and regional scales by creating a direct link between the EBV working
groups and the Biodiversity Observation Networks.
This activity is divided in six tasks:

  1. Detecting intersection points with EBV WGs, selecting priorities for pilots.
  2. EVB Pilots for operationalization: identifying which actors are running long-term biodiversity
    observation programs and what their protocols are.
  3. “Matchmaking”: Build tool(s) and approaches for matchmaking/discovering experts in regions and
    globally, identifying mechanisms for supporting such data collection efforts
  4. Webinars on EBV data collection, analysis and data management
  5. Publications: Publication demonstrating the value and need for interoperable biodiversity
    observation systems in order to promote this to the consumers of this information to solicit
    support. Promote this to get the resources to work on specific products and actions that could be
    scaled up and show cause and effect on having time series data that have led to effective and informed
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables
Link with other activities By nature, this activity will involve interactions with all WGs and BONs.
Data Products
Documents & Publications

Navarro, Laetitia M, Néstor Fernández, Carlos Guerra, Rob Guralnick, W Daniel Kissling, Maria Cecilia Londoño, Frank Muller-Karger, et al. 2017. “Monitoring biodiversity change through effective global coordination”. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. 29: 158-169. Download as PDF |

Vihervaara, Petteri, Ari-Pekka Auvinen, Laura Mononen, Markus Törmä, Petri Ahlroth, Saku Anttila, Kristin Böttcher, et al. 2017. “How Essential Biodiversity Variables and remote sensing can help national biodiversity monitoring”. Global Ecology and Conservation. 10: 43-59. Download as PDF |


BON in a Box logoBON in a Box is a regionally customizable and continually updated online toolkit for facilitating the start-up or enhancement of national or regional biodiversity observation systems.

BON in a Box aims to serve as a technology transfer mechanism that allows countries access to the most advanced and effective monitoring protocols, tools and software thereby, lowering the threshold for a country to set up, enhance or harmonize a national biodiversity observing system.

Learn more about BON in a Box on the following page: