What is the UK Clearing-House Mechanism for?

One of the aims of the Convention on Biological Diversity, adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, is to facilitate exchange of information, and to promote international technical and scientific cooperation. In order to achieve this, the Convention Secretariat is working with Contracting Parties to develop a Clearing-House Mechanism (CHM) which promotes the sharing of relevant information using the World Wide Web. The UK CHM is a contribution to this programme by the United Kingdom Government, building on the information provided by a number of other national governments.

Who is developing it?

The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) has been requested by the UK Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) to develop the UK CHM. In doing so, JNCC is working in close collaboration with a wide range of UK government and non-government organisations, which can assist others in the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. The web site and associated facilities have been developed by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre(WCMC).

How is it being developed?

Rather than develop a web site that is simply a series of links to other sites, the UK CHM takes the form of a searchable database of references to information about the services, documents and datasets available through British organisations, plus the events which these organisations manage. Standard classifications and terms are being used in the development of this database, so that in the future it will be made accessible to computers all around the world via the Z39.50 communication protocol.

What information will it contain?

The Convention on Biological Diversity covers a wide range of themes which have been added to subsequently by the various decisions of the Conferences of the Parties. JNCC has developed a set of Guidelines for the UK CHM, which identify the types of information that are appropriate for inclusion within the web site. These guidelines have been circulated to a range of organisations, which have provided information using standard Pro Formae. In future it is anticipated that such information will be added and edited direct by accredited agencies.

How will the service develop in the future?

This is a prototype information service. Over the coming months and years, more information will be added, and functionality will be increased. Specifically:

  • feedback will give a clearer idea of user requirements
  • agencies will refine the information that they provide
  • more organisations will be approached to add information
  • ability to move from the UK CHM to information on the web servers of partner organisations will be increased

How can I contribute to this effort?

If you are a UK-based organisation with services, documents, datasets or events that are relevant to the conservation and sustainable development of biological diversity, and would like to add these to the UK CHM.