Work on the European Breeding Bird Atlas EBBA2 in 2020 had one target: the publication of the book by EBCC and Lynx Edicions in December. Despite the difficult circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic the deadline set right at the beginning of the project in 2011 could be kept and the book launched on 3 December 2020.
In early January 2020 all texts for the 556 species accounts were ready, after a collaborative effort of 348 authors, and finally checked by a language editor and prepared to be sent to the publisher. In parallel, the files for all the maps and illustrations made by 46 artists were prepared according to the guidelines from the publisher. Work on the general chapters, from introduction to methods and main results as well as appendices and reference lists continued until March. By end of February (species accounts) and end of March (general chapters) all material (texts, figures, maps, illustrations and photographs), 63 gigabytes of information in total, were made available to the publisher in a set of online folders, together with explanatory files.
The finalisation of the work by the coordination team and book production fell into difficult times related to the Covid-19 pandemic, hitting Spain particularly badly in March. Work had to be reorganised, and the impossibility to have physical meetings required particular communication efforts to avoid misunderstandings. Despite these difficulties, the publisher provided the first proofs for the species accounts at the end of July. Thanks to the coordinated effort of the EBBA2 coordination team and the layout team at Lynx from August to October, it was possible to keep to the time plan and printing started at the beginning of November.
In parallel to the work for the book the coordination team supported national partners with database extracts. As a special support to the coordinators in Russia, 50-km maps showing species occurrence across Europe and modelled maps cropped to show only the Russian territory were produced for inclusion in the national atlas of European Russia.
With the publication of EBBA2 in sight the number of enquiries by researchers on access to maps and data increased. The EBCC research group started a first analysis on distribution change for all European species, in a collaboration of researchers from several institutions. By the end of the year, the analysis was mostly finished and work on the manuscript started.
Dissemination of information on the book and on first results was intensified in the course of the year, starting with the provision of texts and maps to the network in June, together with guidelines on how to use them to promote the atlas at national level. This led to several publications in national languages, printed or online, informing about the atlas and forthcoming book publication. The provision of information on the EBBA2 website and social media (Facebook, Twitter) also intensified, with a special social media campaign in view of book publication. This included the promotion of the sale of illustrations on a specific platform on the website and the ongoing Species Sponsorship. The national coordinators, authors of species accounts, sponsors and other stakeholders were kept informed also via direct emails and the quarterly EBCC Newsletter. The EBBA2 website was updated and a special section was created for national coordinators, where they could provide details on their contribution to EBBA2 (including names of all fieldworkers) in addition to the information included in the book. A webinar was organised for BirdLife partners in Europe as well as national EBBA2 coordinators in October.
The promotion of the book with the possibility to pre-order it at a reduced rate of 70 Euro started in October and lasted until end of November, after which the book was sold at the ordinary price of 90 Euro. The book price was subsidised by a contribution from the project to the publisher, in order to make the book affordable to a wide audience from across Europe. On 21 October a special issue of the EBCC Newsletter dedicated to the promotion of EBBA2 was sent to 557 recipients. Book sales started well and the demand was much higher than expected by the publisher, and a second print run was organised by Lynx already before the official launch of the book on 3 December.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the final workshop and the book launch could not take place as originally planned. Eventually, the event was organised as a virtual event with physical presence of a handful of people in each of the three institutions of the coordination team, Barcelona, Sempach and Prague, with virtual connexions to participants across Europe. Both the workshop in the morning with presentations from the main authors as well as national and international partners and the book launch in the afternoon were attended by around 300 people. By January 2021 the recorded launch video had been accessed by over 3100 people, the one of the workshop by 2600.
The launch event also gave the possibility to thank all the donors for their financial support, which made the European atlas project possible. The EBBA2 book marks the physical output of the collaboration of the whole EBCC network over 10 years. The EBBA2 coordination team, the steering committee and the EBCC board express thanks to the thousands of people who contributed in one way or the other.
The EBBA2 launch was accompanied by a press release, which was made available to the national coordinators for the use at national level. The media coverage included many articles in newspapers, TV or radio broadcasting.
EBBA2 is more than the book. The project is not completely finished yet. An online version of the maps is planned for the end of 2021. The huge database behind the maps provides a massive amount of information to be used for research and conservation. With the publication of the book the focus will shift to providing advice on the use and interpretation of the EBBA2 outputs to ensure that they will be used in the best possible way.
Within the EBCC network, national atlases and monitoring initiatives have a high priority to follow up on EBBA2. After the publication of the national atlases in Denmark and European Russia at the end of 2020, the publication of the Ukrainian atlas will follow in 2021. Work on other national atlases continues. The EBCC board will seek for opportunities to support emerging monitoring schemes and online platforms in various parts of Europe, in synergy with the other two main EBCC projects, the Pan-European Monitoring Scheme PECBMS and EuroBirdPortal EBP. Finally, EBBA2 has already contributed to reinforcing contacts between EBCC and other non-governmental and governmental bodies, such as BirdLife International or the European Commission, and discussions on further collaboration have started.
Sempach, 15 January 2021
Chair of the Atlas Steering Committee