LifeWatch INBO

22 winters of waterbird counts are published as open data

We have just published another core data system of the Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO) as open data: Watervogels - Wintering waterbirds in Flanders, Belgium. The dataset joins the systems Florabank1 and Fish Information System (VIS)1, as well as numerous other datasets that have been published and registered via our GBIF Integrated Publishing Toolkit. Special thanks to principal investigator Koen Devos (INBO), data liaison officer Dimitri Brosens (Belgian Biodiversity Platform), and the many volunteer observers to make this possible.

Watervogels - Wintering waterbirds in Flanders, Belgium contains more than 75,000 bird counts, covering over 600,000 observations and 35 million individuals for the period 1991-2013. It includes information on 170 species in nearly 1,200 wetland sites. The aim of these bird counts is to gather information on the size, distribution and long term trends of wintering waterbird populations in Flanders. These data are also used to assess the importance of individual sites for waterbirds, using quantitative criteria. Furthermore, the waterbird counts contribute to international monitoring programs, such as the International Waterbird Census (coordinated by Wetlands International) and fulfil some of the objectives of the European Bird Directive, the Ramsar Convention, and the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA). The data are released in bulk as open data. See the dataset metadata for contact information, scope and methodology. [from the metadata]

Map of the wetland locations in Flanders in which the waterbirds are counted each winter.

As usual, issues with the data or dataset can be reported via GitHub, where one can also find a Markdown version of the extensive metadata. We have dedicated the data to the public domain under a Creative Commons Zero waiver, allowing anyone to use these without restrictions. We do appreciate it however if you read and follow these norms for data use and provide a link to the original dataset (http://dataset.inbo.be/watervogels-occurrences) when possible. We are always interested to see what you did with the data. Leave a comment, reach us at LifeWatchINBO or see our contact information in the metadata.


  1. The publication of the Fish Information System (VIS) was announced in a blog post earlier this year

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