SEWeb - Scotland's environmental web

LIFE10 ENV/UK/000182

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Jo MUSE
Email: Joanna.Muse@SEPA.org.uk

Project description:


The emerging idea for Scotland’s Environment Web (SEWeb) grew from a number of challenges that centred around that fact that in the majority of EU Member States, a wide range of organisations are involved in the monitoring and protection of the environment but there was limited scope for close interaction on ideas and on data provision. In Scotland, these organisations had developed their own monitoring and reporting strategies designed to deliver their respective individual functions. The results of this were:

  • Fragmentation of information across many different sources and inability to compare data sets;
  • Difficulty in identifying common issues across environmental problems;
  • Difficulty in determining a comprehensive and timely picture of the environment;
  • Uncoordinated public communication on key environmental issues and provision of relevant and engaging information, resulting in disengaged public attitudes, lack of awareness and involvement in action; and
  • Incomplete reporting to the European Environment Agency (EEA).

  • Objectives

    The SEWeb project aimed to present a wide view of Scotland’s environment, through a website that brought together data and information as well as expertise from a number of organisations’ into a single centralised “gateway to everything you want to know about Scotland’s Environment” to deliver four key objectives:

    • Objective 1 - Develop an inclusive partnership programme bringing together the key data providers and data users;
    • Objective 2 - Promote the expansion of a European SEIS (Shared Environmental Information System) through the development of a regional SEIS that will provide information required by the EEA;
    • Objective 3 - Provide a better understanding of the wider impacts of environmental change and develop a means of prioritising environmental problems; and
    • Objective 4 - Engage the public by providing access to high-quality online interactive resources to promote better understanding of the environment, and involvement in discussion, monitoring and action.

    • Results

      The SEWeb project developed successful partnerships with numerous organisations in all key sectors, implemented the concept and promoted the benefits of a SEIS, improved the effectiveness of policy development, and engaged the public by providing data in a more accessible format, engaging citizens in discussion, monitoring and local action, publishing educational information resources and rewarding good ideas and action in schools.

      SEWeb brought together a wide range of organisations involved in the environment sector to provide a comprehensive view of Scotland's environment. This partnership programme linked key data providers with data users, and facilitated cross-discipline discussion.

      32 authors from 12 environmental organisations developed the State of the Environment (SoE) topics for Scotland. The prioritisation of environmental issues was addressed by these authors, editors, and topic experts based on the existing 26 topics on the Our Environment Section of SEWeb. The high-level summaries allow a degree of comparison between topics, and encourage users to consider the relative state of each topic; the objective was to provide website users with a simple, clear assessment of the state and trend of each topic, whilst providing them with the option to access to further information if required. Partnerships with 15 data-providing organisations provided over 300 datasets that can be accessed through the project website (www.environment.scotland.gov.uk), using mapping and data visualisation applications developed by the project team.

      The project has published (with the relaunch of the website in June 2014) an updated version of the State of the Environment Report which involved an extensive partnership exercise of assessing and prioritising Scotland’s Key Environmental Issues. The methodology, published as a result of this work, is now being used by SEPA in identifying key environmental priorities on which it will focus future work of the organisation. SoE topics published on the ‘Scotland's Environment’ website include key messages agreed on by the partnership group and an assessment of the state and trends (improving, stable, or deteriorating) for each topic area. This provides decision-makers with the cross-discipline evidence needed to prioritise environmental issues, thereby improving the effectiveness of policy development.

      The creation of a regional SEIS has been achieved through the development of Scotland’s first environmental data discovery hub where users can access information and data, creating a gateway through a range of applications that help people connect with their environment and understand more about Scotland’s Environment - http://www.environment.scotland.gov.uk/. The project delivered a number of initiatives involving Open Data (published in an accessible format), including a Linked Data repository and the use of Linked Data to present Scottish indicators of environmental quality. INSPIRE Directive-compliant (conforming to the European infrastructure for sharing environmental spatial information) map layers helped demonstrate the benefits of Open Data, using thematic environmental information collated from a diverse range of data sources. The use of data visualisation software, such as demonstrated in Spotfire applications, the Land Information System and Map Viewer, allows for the presentation of shared data from multiple sources, to provide a better understanding of the wider impacts of environmental change. The project approach represented innovative technology in the development of applications to support data over large scales, with challenges to be overcome relating to data formatting, and awareness of data and information systems requirements. After-LIFE, data will continue to be updated and linked on the SEWeb site.

      SEWeb engaged the public by providing access to innovative high-quality online interactive resources, which promoted a better understanding of the environment. It asked for their views on environmental issues through traditional and new media, environmental competitions and schools’ initiatives. The public were also engaged in discussion and in monitoring actions. The tools developed on the website included the map viewer, Land Information Search, What’s In My Area and 14 Spotfire visual data analysis tools allowing users to analysis and display data from multiple datasets. Further, the website provides a Project Finder application that enabled the public to identify local citizen data collection and action initiatives, a list of recommended mobile phone applications, air quality information and tools, annual school competitions and education materials, and a citizen science toolkit to help people start their own projects. The project produced user guidance documents and videos to help users. Public engagement was demonstrated in the number of submissions to the 'Our Environment' competition and the number of projects (over 80) registered on the Project Finder website that presents opportunities for volunteers.

      The website therefore provides a comprehensive view of Scotland's environment, allowing users to access, view and interrogate comprehensive data from multiple agencies across Scotland. The project's importance for policy and legislation is that it has brought together all this information in a single place, allowing multiple datasets to be viewed alongside each other. Users are able to easily access, interrogate and display the data. This allows policy formulation to be based on complete and up-to-date data, which should help contribute to 'better' decision-making, as evidenced in the successful and cross-collaborative SoE Report.

      The Scottish Government Open Data Strategy requires the public sector in Scotland to publish all data as Open Data and make it freely available. The project’s implementation has provided a timely demonstration of a platform of products and services using Open Data, which can be converted into valuable and interesting information for widespread use. The project has been noted in the Scottish Government Open Data Strategy as a best practice example of providing access to Open Data and it is generally considered by much of the public sector as a leading digital project. It has consistently led the delivery of Open Data and definition of best practise. The project provided several significant socio-economic benefits, including improved community awareness of and engagement with environmental issues. Since the project concluded, significant growth has been demonstrated in the use of the SEWeb tools.

      Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Information - Governance - Awareness raising - Information


monitoring‚  decision making support‚  social participation‚  environmental assessment‚  information system

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Scottish Environment Protection Agency
Type of organisation Regional authority
Description The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is a government body with a mandate covering the implementation of EU environmental regulation and the promotion of good environmental practices.
Partners None


Project reference LIFE10 ENV/UK/000182
Duration 01-SEP-2011 to 31-AUG -2015
Total budget 4,780,852.00 €
EU contribution 2,351,950.00 €
Project location Scotland(United Kingdom)


Read more:

Leaflet Project's digital brochure
Project web site Project's website
Project web site - 2 7th newsletter of the project (September 2015)
Project web site - 2 3rd newsletter of the project (May 2013)
Project web site - 2 5th newsletter of the project (June 2014)
Project web site - 2 6th newsletter of the project (May 2015)
Project web site - 2 1st newsletter of the project (September 2012)
Project web site - 2 2nd newsletter of the project (December 2012)
Project web site - 2 4th newsletter of the project (October 2013)
Publication: After-LIFE Communication Plan After-LIFE Communication Plan
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Technical report Project's Final technical report
Video link Project's video (3')
Video link "Identifying earthworms" (5')
Video link "Rivers and canals topic" (3')
Video link "Pitfall traps" (2')
Video link "Measuring pH of ponds and water quality" (5')
Video link "Sampling strategies including quadrat use" (7')
Video link "Small mammal trapping" (9')
Video link "Measuring soil pH" (4')
Video link "Measuring tree height" (3')
Video link "Pond dipping" (3')


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version