GBIF France launches new national data portal for biodiversity

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GBIF France has launched the Atlas of Living France, a new data portal providing access to more than 17 million biodiversity data records published by French institutions.

The launch coincided with the meeting of the GBIF France Steering Committee.

The website, which allows users to explore occurrence records and metadata, uses open-source code developed by GBIF’s Australian Participant, the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA). The new French atlas is the second national portal developed with the ALA’s tools, coming on the heels of GBIF Spain’s release last year. 

“The workshops held by the ALA in Canberra and Paris were really helpful in getting an understanding of the architecture of the portal," said Marie-Elise Lecoq from GBIF France.

“Feedback from GBIF Spain about the development of their site made my work easier," she added. Front-end development of the portal took three months. The portal imports its 17 million records via the GBIF API. 

GBIF France expects to develop a mapping tool for published records, also based on ALA software, as the next stage of development.

A GBIF capacity enhancement project later this year will enlist Belgium, France, Spain and Portugal to translate tools and documentation for adapting ALA tools into French, Spanish and Portuguese.

For more information and feedback, please contact the GBIF France development team.

Africa Rising celebrates International Day for Biological Diversity with programme launch, joint declaration

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Nearly 100 delegates representing dozens of national agencies, international organizations and research institutions marked the United Nations’ International Day for Biological Diversity while concluding a four-day conference in Cape Town Friday,

Attendees convened at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden for Africa Rising: Mobilising Biodiversity Data for Sustainable Development, an engaging, intensive work session led by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).

The event culminated with the release of a ‘Declaration on biodiversity information for sustainable development in Africa’, a joint statement of intent developed by participants during the conference. The declaration’s release on International Day for Biological Diversity carries added poignancy given that the theme for UN’s 2015 occasion is ‘Biodiversity and Sustainable Development’. 

Friday also saw the formal launch Biodiversity Information for Development, or BID. Funded by the European Union and led by GBIF, this programme will focus on increasing the mobilization and use of biodiversity data for policy and research in the ‘ACP countries’ of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Africa Rising provided the occasion for the first of BID’s three planned regional meetings.

Text of the declaration follows.

Africa Rising was organized and hosted by SANBI with support from GBIF, the JRS Biodiversity Foundation, RESILIM: USAID Resilience in the Limpopo Basin, and the United Nations Environment Programme – World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC).


Declaration on biodiversity information for sustainable development in Africa

On this International Day for Biological Diversity in 2015, we the participants of the conference, Africa Rising: Mobilising Biodiversity Data for Sustainable Development, held in Cape Town, South Africa, from 19 to 22 May 2015, agree that the quality of decision-making relies on the quality of information considered and hereby declare our vision for 2030 as a world in which biodiversity information contributes fully to sustainable development in Africa. Specifically, we desire that:

  • Governments subscribe to the principle of free and open access to biodiversity information;
  • Policymakers are adequately informed to respond effectively to global environmental change;
  • Countries are sufficiently capacitated to measure and track the status and trends of biodiversity and ecosystem services;
  • Biodiversity considerations are mainstreamed into all planning decisions; and
  • All sectors of society can contribute towards and benefit from a global pool of biodiversity knowledge derived from Earth observations.

Biodiversity is the bedrock of sustainable development. In Africa, biodiversity makes a profound contribution to human wellbeing and security, underpinning vital sectors including agriculture, fisheries, forestry, water, public health, tourism and energy. Next to our people, biodiversity is our greatest asset. If managed wisely, it could bring about a surge in green economic opportunities, strengthening the resilience of livelihoods, and catalysing sustainable development across the continent.

Data is the currency of the information age. The global data revolution presents new opportunities for evidence-based decision-making, active citizenship, technology transfer, education and research.

Critical data-deficits impair decision-making. Achieving sustainable development in Africa will require relevant reliable biodiversity information as well as tailored products and services to be made available to researchers, natural resource managers and policymakers in consumable forms.

Regional cooperation can spur coordinated action. By working together we can pool resources, share expertise, enhance capacity and efficiently progress towards the following goals:

  • Evidence-based decision-making supported by coordinated science-policy dialogue within and outside the biodiversity sector;
  • Capacity building across the information value chain to empower stakeholders to produce and make accessible accurate biodiversity data for sustainable development;
  • Mobilize and make openly accessible relevant biodiversity data to support education, research and decision-making for sustainable development;
  • Leverage sustained funding.

Africa could lead the world in biodiversity information management. Our continent is bursting with human ingenuity and brimming with natural resource wealth. Let us unlock the potential of biodiversity information to help secure a sustainable future for all. It is our responsibility. 

GBIF awards six capacity enhancement grants for 2015

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GBIF has selected six projects to receive support through its capacity enhancement programme in 2015. The projects involve 16 national Participants, three organizational Participants and other partners to address specific capacity needs in Africa, Latin America and Europe.

The selected projects focus on mobilization, access and use of digital biodiversity data as well as translation of essential technical and training documentation.   

The projects to receive support this year are:

  • A Latin American collaboration to establish a national biodiversity website and data publication workflow for Uruguay led by GBIF Uruguay1
  • A European project led by the Belgium Biodiversity Platform, host to the Belgian Node, to translate the technical documentation and user-interface required for reusing Atlas of Living Australia’s software to develop national biodiversity portals
  • An African project in which the lead agency, Endangered Wildlife Trust, will train seven GBIF nodes in ecological niche modelling and make the training material available to the community
  • A project in Africa headed by GBIF Portugal2 to promote GBIF in Portuguese-speaking African nations
  • A GBIF Malawi3-led project to identify training and infrastructure needs related to biodiversity data management in the country and to achieve stakeholder commitment in implementing GBIF activities
  • A project in which GBIF France will mentor GBIF Madagascar in strengthening their national network and publishing new data.

The GBIF capacity enhancement support programme builds on previous successful mentoring and regional support programmes and applies the GBIF Capacity Enhancement Framework.

For 2015, the programme provides over €70,000 in financial support, which is in addition to €62,000 in funding that other sources have committed to the selected projects.

Read more about the projects awarded support for 2015.

1 – GBIF Uruguay is hosted by the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural. The project is co-funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture of Uruguay, SIB Colombia and Canadensys.
2 – GBIF Portugal is hosted by the Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical.
3 – The Malawi National Commission for Science and Technology is the host institution of GBIF Malawi.


Surveys seek to understand biodiversity data needs and resources in Africa

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GBIF is currently seeking input via surveys for data holders and decision makers—two stakeholder groups critical to the long-term success of the Biodiversity Information for Development (BID) programme.

This new multi-year programme aims to increase the availability and use of biodiversity information in the ‘ACP’ nations of sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Data holders need resources and incentives to distribute the many types of information that they steward. Available in English, French and Portuguese, this survey seeks opinions from data holders in ACP countries in Africa regarding the financial or technical challenges they face in sharing data and its use in research and policy.

Decision makers depend on high-quality biodiversity information to support planning and policy and to encourage world-class research. The second survey—also available in English, French and Portuguese—seeks opinions from decision makers in ACP countries in Africa about how well their information needs are currently served.

We encourage interested data holders and decision makers take the seven-question, 20-minute survey. Please feel free to share the surveys with other contacts and networks to help us gain a deeper, more practical understanding of how BID can best support data mobilization and use across Africa.