e-Puszcza. Podlasie nature scientific data repository (Operational Programme Digital Poland)
Project duration: 2019-2022
Project status: Active
Project leader: Joanna Łapińska

What is the e-Puszcza repository?
E-Puszcza is a newly created repository of data on Polish nature, used to share scientific information and disseminate knowledge about the state of Polish nature. The creation of the openforestdata.pl platform is part of the development of open and modern science based on open software. E-Puszcza will improve the quality of research through access to existing knowledge and its more effective use. The available data will mainly concern the Białowieża Forest and will allow better understanding of the only Polish natural area inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

What is the purpose of the e-Puszcza repository?
Many research materials are collected in the laboratories of the Mammal Research Institute. Research teams of the Polish Academy of Sciences have been collecting, documenting and analyzing data from the Białowieża Forest for years. It is both biological material and satellite images, recordings from photographic traps, and GPS data. The scientists’ achievements also include valuable measurement data, notes from scouts, sketches from the field, drawings. Data collected once, thanks to appropriate storage, can be used in subsequent scientific projects. They just need to be properly described, cataloged and made public. This is what the repository will do.

How will this work?
Openforestdata.pl is the address of the platform on which it will be possible to search and view data. Depending on your access level, you can also download and copy them. A lot of information will be widely publicized in the so-called free access. Nature enthusiasts will easily find in the repository, among others three-dimensional scans of bison skulls, unique specimens of plants, fungi and insects, or specialized maps. Researchers will have the opportunity to share data in a standardized way, which is the basis for scientific exchange. Officials and uniformed services will also benefit from the platform, which will facilitate the work on classified data.

Why is data sharing important?
For several years, more and more data, including scientific ones, has been going to the internet and that’s where users are looking. Increasing importance is also attached to sharing scientific data with the public. This is related to the global trend of involving society in the scientific process (the so-called citizen science).
In recent years, the requirements for scientists have also changed – an increasing number of scientific journals require data to be available as soon as the content of the article is published. That is why scientists are looking for opportunities to put scientific data in data repositories. Researchers expect governments and institutions responsible for financing science in the US and Europe, including the European Commission, to open access to research data. Secure archiving and open data sharing are becoming key elements of scientific and economic development, in line with the idea of ​​intelligent development.

Data from which area will be available in the repository?
The openforestdata.pl platform will first be supplied by collections from the Białowieża Forest. Ultimately, however, this address will become the most important knowledge base on nature in Poland. The repository is designed for both Polish and foreign scientists, students, specialists in nature protection, but also officials, foresters and simply enthusiasts.

Who does this?
The repository is created by the forces of scientific institutions from Podlasie, which received funding for this project from the Digital Poland Operational Program. The leader of the undertaking is the Mammal Biology Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IBS PAN) in Białowieża, and the partners of the unit are two units of the Białystok University of Technology: Off-camp Faculty of Forestry in Hajnówka (ZWL PB) and the Center of Wide Area Computer Network (CKSR). Scientists are working on the methodological concept and technical design. The website itself will be prepared by the IT company selected in the tender. The first collections to be fed to the openforestdata.pl platform come from IBS PAN.