Africa is a mega-diverse continent with many unique species and ecosystems contributing to the continent’s natural wealth.
Conservation and the sustainable use of biodiversity are challenges that Africa is committed to addressing. Countries are increasingly recognizing that healthy, intact ecosystems can contribute to poverty alleviation and economic development. A number of African countries have signed the United Nations Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Cartagena Protocol. The CBD calls for the application of scientific knowledge and innovative approaches to generate technologies for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
African participation in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility has increased. GBIF is a mega-science initiative and an innovative platform that supports the science of Biodiversity Informatics, and ties into a number of international conventions targeted at reducing biodiversity loss. It promotes principles of free and open access to biodiversity data which is universally available for science, society and a sustainable future.
The participation of African countries and associations in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility stands at 25 members sharing more than 12 million records. The growth in membership has resulted in greater awareness for the need to proactively manage biodiversity data in support of the research-planning-decision-making-monitoring cycle.
The increase in membership has had positive developments for participating countries and organizations including:
- Improved coordination in the mobilization of data
- The development of web data portals
- Easier access to biodiversity data
- Capacity building initiatives at a country level
The unique and common experiences of regional nodes, which may be very different from the global experience, was recognized at the GBIF 16 Governing Board in 2009, where a regional approach for liaising with participant nodes was identified and a commitment was made to holding regional workshops. Regional workshops advance communication on the continent and contribute to improved node activity and coordination. The regions can better inform the GBIF 2012 -2016 work programme in relation to country requirements.