To increase depth and breadth of coverage, applicability and usefulness of the biodiversity data it mediates, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) has set a goal of making one billion (1,000,000,000) high quality data records available via its data portal by December 2008.
GBIF calls on holders of such data around the world to prioritise digitising and sharing their data to deepen and broaden biodiversity data coverage of the whole globe available through the GBIF network.
There is a worldwide call for more information on the world's biodiversity to be made digitally available so it may be used to understand better the state of the planet and our management thereof. One such key area is monitoring and measuring the impacts of changes in climate on the Earth's flora and fauna and thus on human well-being and sustainable development. This call comes from all sectors of society - governments, industry, academia, and civil society.
GBIF is the world's largest network for scientific biodiversity data, currently giving access to approximately 136 million digital records held in over 1000 databases worldwide.
"Our new Data Portal, especially with some upcoming enhancements, is ready to handle huge amounts of data," said Dr. Nick King, Executive Secretary of GBIF. "In addition, we are moving rapidly to a more decentalised model to build capacity and access in individual countries. We are calling for biodiversity data providers everywhere to take advantage of the infrastructure we have built to make their data available."
The GBIF Governing Board, comprising delegations from its 42 member countries and 34 international organisations, agreed the 1 Billion Records target proposed by King at its annual meeting in October of this year. "It is an ambitious goal," noted one of the delegates, "but it is good to have it. It can be met if everyone works on it."
In recognising that achieving the goal will require much greater interest and investment in GBIF-related activities at the national level, the Governing Board called on all its members, as well as other countries and organisations, to make such investments in the interest of addressing global problems.
"The data that are mobilised via the GBIF architecture are critical to doing the analyses that are necessary to understand the changes in the world," said King. "Analyses of GBIF-mobilised data can be used to address many important issues such as measuring progress toward the Millennium Development Goals and the 2010 Biodiversity Target."
The need for this rapid mobilisation of quality data is well-supported by the recently published findings of a BBSRC-funded study examining the depth of coverage available through GBIF (see http://www.gbif.org/News/NEWS1194542091).