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Central and Eastern European Regional Project, Reuben Sessa

Regional programmes promote collaboration,
exchange of methods, and facilitates
the development of regional datasets


GTOS regional programmes foster collaboration among scientists, research sites, national and international agencies. This not only allows regional and global data gaps to be identified and filled, but also increases the free exchange of data needed for developing and implementing national, regional and global programmes. The original GTOS Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) programme involved the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and the Slovak Republic, but in the last biennium scientists from neighbouring countries (Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia and Ukraine) have also become involved. One of the main obstacles encountered in the CEE region is that although data are routinely collected, too often the data are not properly processed, stored, indexed nor integrated with other information. This renders data unusable or inaccessible to other potential users. In addition, access to data is also a major problem in the region.


To overcome the problems of data access, GTOS has continued capacity building activities in the CEE region. A workshop was held in Budapest, 4 - 6 June 2002, on the use of data management systems for spatial (map), image, tabular (spreadsheet) and unstructured (document) data, as well as the role of metadata. Participants were trained in the use of FAO's data management software (Dynamic Atlas) to a level that would allow them to implement and train others in the use of the software on their return to their institutes. These workshops also provided an opportunity for regional networking and collaboration among scientists.


During 2002 - 2003, collaborators and consultants were involved in gathering CEE data sets and information relevant to terrestrial carbon observations (see page 8). A workshop in Prague, 17 - 20 November 2002, brought together 33 experts from the region, who participated in gathering data sets and identifying data gaps that need to be filled to allow accurate estimates of carbon stocks and fluxes to be made for the region. Training was also provided in use of the FAO Dynamic Atlas software, which was used develop a warehouse containing the data and metadata that had been collected. The warehouse has been further supplemented with additional data, e.g. from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC), and the data is now freely available on request from the GTOS Secretariat.


The recent work in gathering carbon relevant data has shown that there is a large amount of good quality data being gathered. However, this data is often unavailable to general users because of various restrictions, and incompatibility with Western European standards. There is also a lack of coordination, at both the regional and national levels, which makes it difficult to identify available data and data gaps. Data incompatibility due the way data is gathered, processed and archived is a major obstacle in developing regional and global data sets. In the spring of 2004, GTOS will be organizing a workshop to specifically address the issue of standardization of methods used to gather, process and archive carbon-relevant data.

GTOS CEE workshops and meetings were organized with the financial support of the Government of the Czech Republic and with the logistical support of COMENIUS (Pan-European Society for Culture, Education and Scientific and Technical Cooperation).

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