The ALA is our national biodiversity data infrastructure, aggregating occurrence records for plants, animals and fungi from across Australia. In 2021, the ALA dataset reached 100 million records. 

However, the ALA has some shortcomings. In a 2019 consultation, our stakeholders and users identified the lack of absence data as a weakness, and the inability to deal with new data types, one of the major threats. The Extended Data Model program of work aims to address both these issues.

Current work

In the first phase (Feb-Aug 2022), the project will develop new systems, in collaboration with GBIF – the Global Biodiversity Information Facility – that will enable users to upload, query, browse and download event-based biodiversity survey data.  

For researchers and policy-makers this will be a valuable addition to ALA’s capability. The changes will enable ALA users to model species population trends, as well as absence and abundance. These are important metrics in successfully managing and assessing the health of our ecosystems. 

Knowledge sharing

The ALA Extended Data Model Project team will be working closely with GBIF while developing this technical solution and evolving our data models. Both GBIF and ALA share the same current issues and have a similar vision, it makes sense to collaborate and leverage our collective expertise. 

We will source exemplar datasets from our data providers, and we will work with a reference group formed by our users that will help us steer in the right direction. 

In addition, the ALA will analyse best practices to map DAWE’s Australian Biodiversity Information Standard to our new data model.

Data roadmap

In parallel to the first phase, the ALA Extended Data Model Project team will also be working closely with GBIF on a data roadmap that will lay the work to grow our data model to include new data types such as, but not limited to: genome, camera trap, eDNA, and digital extended specimen data. This roadmap will guide the plans for the ALA for the next 2 to 5 years. 

More information

Extended Data Model Producers’ Guide (PDF): This guide is for those who wish to create Event Core Darwin Core Archives that can be accepted by the ALA.

For more information about the Extended Data Model Project email