Ag. Head chairs international biodiversity body
GBIF is a collective global effort that uses the power of the Internet to mobilise the world’s biodiversity data and make it freely available to anyone. With a growing membership of 54 countries and more than 190 million records on-line (forecast to rise to 2 billion by 2011), the Facility provides the essential backbone for other major biodiversity on-line services including Australia’s ‘Atlas of Living Australia’.
Dr Daly said the world is witnessing an unprecedented decline in biodiversity.
“It is a privilege to Chair the Governing Board at this critical time,” she said.
“The power of historical biodiversity data is immense. We can use data collected over decades, and in some case centuries, to predict future distribution of organisms under climate change scenarios.
“Even in these early days, we have seen GBIF data used to make predictions about where to collect genetic resources for our major food crop plants. We have also shown that conservation parks are not necessarily in ideal locations for conservation in 2050 under climate change scenarios.
“The International Year of Biodiversity will be celebrated in 2010 and, as the world has not achieved the target set in 2002 to halt the decline in the global biodiversity by 2010, this will be a year of reflection on goals set and targets missed.
“Moreover, we simply do not have adequate data on biodiversity to be able to track our progress or to make meaningful predictions on what we can do about it. Crucial data is in books or on shelves and are not accessible to those who need it.
“Over the next five years we must, therefore, grow GBIF to a true mega-science activity in which nations continue to build their on-line delivery of data,” Dr Daly said.