BIOTA AFRICA - Research on the scale of the African continent, integrating the activities of the regional projects
In the past, the activities of the BIOTA AFRICA network have been organised in several regional projects. This structure, defined by the review process at the start of phase I, allowed developing partly identical and partly very different research activities during phase I and II. The structure was essentially well suited to fully develop adequate research in adaptation to the regional ethnic and scientific cultures.
On the other hand, this divided structure influenced the character of cooperation between the regional projects, because regionally defined projects with strong regional cooperation developed regional identities and regional risk strategies.
In phase III the focus returns - to a certain extent - to the initial concept, once proposed by the scientists, which aimed at a continental network. Besides links between the activities of the regional projects, now an additional structural element will deal directly with continental aspects. The establishment of this structural element does not, however, mean that the regional activities will decrease. On the contrary: The goal of the new structure is to increase efficiency by defining regional research in the regional projects and continent-wide research in the overarching structure.
These continent-wide activities are not presenting a new start of new projects. They are rather the consistent and most efficient continuation of activities, which already developed before. The added value of an additional overarching structural element is seen in the explicit goal and implementation of research on a scale well beyond the regional projects by integrating regional activities within the same methodological and operational frame.
In practical terms this means:
- to expand certain activities of one working group to the continental scale (AFRICA-3a: Remote sensing monitoring and AFRICA-3b: Biogeographical monitoring), or
- to develop a much more strict and continent-wide coordination of hitherto regional activities (AFRICA-3c: In-situ Monitoring), and
- to continue or expand infrastructure, which serves all activities of the whole network (AFRICA-1: BIOTA BioMonitoring Data Facility).