The Digital Observatory for Protected Areas (DOPA) is conceived around a set of interacting Critical Biodiversity Informatics Infrastructures (databases, web modelling services, broadcasting services, ...) hosted at different institutions, including the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and BirdLife International. The current services of DOPA provide to a large variety of end-users, ranging from park managers, funding agencies to researchers, with means to assess, monitor and possibly forecast the state and pressure of protected areas at the local, national and global scales.
With an introduction to the DOPA, the readers will find here a user manual of the beta version of DOPA Explorer, a first web based assessment tool where information on 9 000 protected areas covering almost 90% of the global protected surface has been processed automatically to generate a set of indicators on ecosystems, climate, phenology, species, ecosystem services and pressures. DOPA Explorer can so help identify the protected areas with most unique ecosystems and species and assess the pressures they are exposed to because of human development. Ecological data derived from and near real-time earth observations are also made available for the African continent. Inversely, DOPA Explorer indirectly highlights the protected areas for which the information is incomplete.