South Africa announced as fourth largest contributor of biodiversity data

18 October 2011

GBIF conference attendees

South Africa is the fourth largest contributor of primary biodiversity data to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). This significant achievement was communicated at the 18th meeting of the GBIF governing Board held in Buenos Aires in October.

SABIF mobilizes over 14 million biodiversity data records
The South African node of the GBIF, the South African Biodiversity Information Facility (SABIF), mobilized more than 14 million biodiversity data records, through establishing effective partnerships and disbursing grants to capture data, making it the fourth highest contributor of biodiversity information to the GBIF.  All of this information is freely available on the internet www.sabif.ac.za

Data helps to address issues of national priorities
The ability to successfully mobilize millions of records in support of research, conservation, policy and decision making is a direct consequence of the commitment to the open access philosophy shared by SANBI and its partner organisations.  This data, belonging to a range of taxonomic groups, including birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects and plants are of critical importance, as its application has relevance to addressing issues of national priorities and issues such as poverty alleviation, environmental stability and Millennium development Goals.

3rd Vice Chair of the GBIF Science Committee elected
A further achievement for the Africa continent was the election of Prof. Jean Cossi Ganglo of Benin as the 3rd Vice Chair of the GBIF Science Committee.  Prof. Ganglo is a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Agronomy of the University of Abomey-Calavi, Cotonou, and the Node Manager of GBIF-Benin.  Prof. Ganglo has indicated that as an Ambassador of the Africa-GBIF community he intends to draw attention to the specificity of our mega diverse continent so that it can be taken into consideration when making decisions in GBIF.

Regional engagement framework for biodiversity informatics
Significant momentum in biodiversity informatics has been catalyzed on the African continent.  Ms. Parker-Allie, the Nodes chair of the GBIF-Africa region, addressed the Node Managers and Africa Heads of Delegation and presented a regional engagement framework for biodiversity informatics in response to regional and national priorities.  This framework prioritizes a formal mechanism to ensure that Africa speaks with a unified voice on issues of information management.

Value of the Biodiversity Advisor
This year saw the 10 year celebration of GBIF, and the theme of the Science Symposium was "Reaping benefits for Science and Society".  Mr. Selwyn Willoughby, Director of Biodiversity Information Management, at SANBI, presented the value of the Biodiversity Advisor, and its relevance in bridging the science-policy divide. This decision support tool has been commended by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, who has indicated that the Biodiversity Advisor is used in departmental decision making processes.

The South African delegation to the Governing Board event was lead by the Head of Delegation of the South African Biodiversity Information Facility and CEO of SANBI, Dr. Tanya Abrahamse.

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