Digitization and sharing of primary biodiversity data

Support to the development of national platforms for the collection, organization and sharing of information on biological diversity

We are partnering with the major generators and providers of primary biodiversity data to create a national unified, open portal to research-grade information about biodiversity in Mozambique and other SADC countries.

Background and general objectives

While Mozambique is home to a valuable biodiversity heritage, data and information about it, as often happens in other countries as well, are particularly scarce and difficult to find. The experience gained in existing international initiatives (e.g. GBIF, BioCASE, Species2000 and Encyclopedia of Life) as well as in similar initiatives promoted by Italian Cooperation and Sapienza University of Rome (e.g. Biodiversity National Network of Albania – BioNNA and Italian National Biodiversity Network – NNB) can be transferred to Mozambique in order to create a sustainable infrastructure for the standardization, aggregation and publication of biodiversity information.

This infrastructure, hereinafter referred to as the “Biodiversity Network of Mozambique – BioNoMo“, is based on procedures and tools for a real and effective update of biodiversity information that is not directly accessible because it is collected from different and unrelated projects, initiatives, and institutions. This aims to become a tool for national aggregation of biological diversity data, and to make such data available to support the development of more effective strategies for biodiversity conservation as well as the promotion national and international research and collaboration projects. BioNoMo therefore emerges as a source of information for any initiative to support scientific research and relevant national institutions in the reporting commitments undertaken in relation to international conventions related to biodiversity conservation (e.g. CBD).

BioNoMo is being created in partnership with the UEM Department of Biological Sciences (UEM DCB), the UEM Centre of Biotechnology (CB-UEM), the Natural History Museum of Maputo (MHN) and the Mozambican Institute for Agricultural Research (IIAM). Thanks to the collaboration with IIAM and the South Africa National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) the updated information on the conservation status of species according to IUCN Red Lists categories and criteria will complement the data present in the network.

We are always working to add new partners interested in sharing their own primary biodiversity data. The activities include the creation of a database of primary biodiversity data at each if the partner institutions, and the training of staff from these institutions on the creation and management of such databases. The databases will be compliant with state-of-the-art international standards, and will be connected to create a network that will make the data from all sources available on-line through a public web portal. Each partner will have the possibility of keeping some data unavailable to the public until a defined date and time.

Expected results

  • Development of a federated database system that can aggregate databases made by each institution through the digitization or acquisition of biodiversity data already existing in scientific literature or past projects. Databases will be created using appropriate relational systems such as MySQL and PostgreSQL, and will share a common core structure.

  • Development of a web portal containing:

    • The documentation on biodiversity at national level

    • Data on primary biodiversity (particular attention will be given to the dissemination of information on threatened or sensitive species)

    • Species data such as taxonomic lists, image archives and genetic information.

    • Increase capacities of partner institutions to organise the existing primary biodiversity data in relational databases

  • Increase local capacity to use information on biological diversity in order to draw up reports for the Convention on Biological Diversity and effective strategies for its conservation

Further collaborations

The data digitization and sharing initiative has been expanded to Swaziland by signing a MoU with the University of Swaziland (UNISWA) and the Swaziland National Trust Commission (SNTC). The same activities described for Mozambique will be replicated in Swaziland, and SECOSUD will also collaborate to the creation of the first Natural History Museum in the country by coordinating the creation of the digital collections.

List of current partners

Mozambique

UEM Department of Biological Sciences (DCB)

UEM Centre of Biotechnology (CB)

Natural History Museum of Maputo (MHN)

Mozambican Institute for Agricultural Research (IIAM)

Mozambican Institute for Fishery Research (IIP)

National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC)

Gorongosa National Park (PNG) – E. O. Wilson Biodiversity Lab

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) – COMBO Project

South Africa National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

Swaziland

University of Swaziland (UNISWA)

Swaziland National Trust Commission (SNTC)