Tremendous progress has been made in the recent past on data availability and use for describing and monitoring biodiversity. This is largely due to the development of informatics tools. Yet, there is a need to contribute substantially to understanding better what biodiversity really is (it is much more than species occurrence data and biomass production as commonly seen!), how it is structured at multiple scales, how it functions and evolves through time, both for academic purposes and for more sustainably using and protecting biodiversity. The biodiversity informatics community can be a significant player in this endeavor.
Synthesis and analysis of already existing and somewhat available data, where existing data are mobilized by their owners/users in standardized databases and analyzed to answer cutting edge scientific questions, is an answer to this endeavor. A few national initiatives in Europe have embarked separately on this course (France, Germany, UK), based on the experience of centers developed in the US and Australia. These national infrastructures, where scientists and stakeholder meet to share, collate, analyze and synthesize their data during 1 to 3 year-long projects, have the potential to generate novel understanding of biodiversity in an original way, using the vast amount of biodiversity data now available but never mobilized. Such centers need to be integrated into a European infrastructure for sustainability.