For the past three years the continued development of the EPD has been
made possible primarily through the financial support provided by EC contract
ENV4-CT95-0120 that commenced in February 1996. As this contract comes
to an end on 30th April 1999, and the partners in the contract make their
final report to the EC upon the progress made towards the targets identified
in the Work Programme when the contract commenced, it is appropriate to
provide a summary of those achievements for readers of the Newsletter.
We are happy to be able to report that all of the milestones identified in the contract Work Programme have been attained, including the issuing of bi-annual updates of the EPD on disk and on the ftp servers. The gaps identified in the spatial cover of compiled data have been addressed and the relevant milestones achieved. The three partners in the contract have each completed their components of the Work Programme under the guidance of the Advisory Board.
More specifically, the key deliverable identified in the Work Programme was the compilation of further data, with a target of 800 sites in the database by the end of the contract. This target has been surpassed – as is reported elsewhere in this Newsletter there are now >870 sites in the database and that number continues to grow. Furthermore, following a decision by the Advisory Board at its 1996 meeting in Krakow, all of the unrestricted components of the EPD are now available via the www from either Medias France, in Toulouse, or the World Data Center–A, in Boulder.
A second deliverable identified was the development of software to facilitate the handling and analysis of the data in the EPD; here too the progress has been excellent and Joel Guiot in particular, in collaboration with various others, has produced various new software tools (contact: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Amongst the other objectives identified in the contract was the maintenance of the link with the North American Pollen Database; this has been achieved, and has included participation in new developments towards a Global Pollen Database with new regional pollen databases established in Africa, Latin America, China, Japan, Siberia, and the Pacific region. George Jacobson continues to represent the NAPD on the EPD Advisory Board, whilst both Eric Grimm and John Keltner have attended Advisory Board meetings, to which they have made invaluable contributions. The Advisory Board has continued their active participation in the direction and development of the EPD, meeting annually in Krakow (1996), Durham (1997), Bonn (1998) and Arles (1999). As some former AB members have reached the end of their terms of office and stepped down, new members have been elected and begun to contribute to the work of the AB.
As reported elsewhere in this Newsletter, the working group on the harmonisation of pollen nomenclature has also met regularly throughout the period of the contract and has provided essential advice on nomenclature and systematics.
In summary, the project has been successful in achieving its targets, and at the end of the project the EPD has reached a stage of development where, as discussed elsewhere in this Newsletter, it is able to provide the foundation for a variety of research projects. If the database is to continue to grow and develop, however, and to provide the support for future research, then there is an urgent need to identify further funding for the maintenance of compilation and related activities. The Executive Committee and the Advisory Board have discussed the future funding options at their most recent meeting and various potential sources of funding have been identified and will be pursued.