Liberia Prepares for Biodiversity Data Gathering

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A professional workshop on Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) that is aimed at providing anyone, anywhere open access to biodiversity data information about all types of life on earth, is currently taking place at the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) Headquarters in Monrovia.

Coordinated through its Secretariat in Copenhagen, GBIF provides data-holding institutions around the world with common standards and open-source tools that enable these countries to share information about where and when species have been recorded.

Accordingly, this organization’s index of hundreds of millions of species occurrence knowledge derives from many sources, including everything from museum specimens collected in the 18th and 19th century, to geotagged smartphone photos shared by armature naturalists in recent days and weeks.

The GBIF network draws all these sources together through the use of the Darwin Core Standard, which forms the basis of GBIF organizations index of hundreds of millions of species occurrence records.

Those who manage to publish their data provide open access to their datasets, using machine-readable Creative Common license designations, which allow scientists, researchers and others to apply the data in hundreds of peer-reviewed publications and policy papers each year.

Many of these analysis, which covers topics from the impact of climate change and the spread of invasive and alien pest to priorities for conservation and protected areas, food security and human health, would not be possible without this.

A Professor from the William Richard Tolbert College of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Liberia, John T. Woods providing the background of the project, said in 2017, a concept note was prepared by Fauna and Flora International (FFI), Kansas State University (KU), University of Liberia (UL) and the FDA.

A project, worth 3.9 Euro, was approved by the European Union to develop biodiversity information for conservation data.

He said participating institutions have expressed their willingness to gather and share data from their various research carried out.

Professor Woods said the objective of the workshop is to bring all biodiversity information in Liberia together and in one place.

“As of now, all the biodiversity data in Liberia are scattered all around the world in different universities and other locations, and consultants who did research in the past have all of the data in their possession and are not willing to release them,” Woods recounted.

Benedictus Freeman, a Liberian PHD Student studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Kansas University, United States of America, said that the workshop is intended to mobilize Liberia’s biodiversity data collected from different research projects as far back as when Firestone and other huge concessions, non-governmental organizations, individuals and many others participated in the clearing of the ecosystem containing biodiversity.

Freeman said that Liberia signed up to the GBIF, comprising a network of countries across the world that signed up to share biodiversity data.

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