To biodiversity stakeholders in Japan, one of the largest impediments is language. For many, the English language presents a hurdle difficult to overcome, hampering exploitation of data mediated by GBIF. With the contribution of the National Museum of Nature and Science, JBIF–the Japanese node of GBIF–has developed a domestic biodiversity data system called “Science Museum Net (S-Net)”, providing a GBIF.org-like interface to promote use of biodiversity data from specimens stored in nearly 100 museums. The National Museum of Nature and Science collects data provided by local museums, universities, and public institutions, who are awarded for their efforts of converting data.
The JBIF and S-Net websites assemble relevant information (manuals, tools, lists, brochures and slides used in the meeting, etc.), while also supporting the dissemination of information through news and announcements through emails to people registered through the sites.
Chiaki Ohkuma from the Toyota City Nature Sanctuary comments on S-Net:
"Specimens are physical evidence of the occurrence of a specific organisms in a certain place at a certain time. S-Net with its evidence data accumulated using Japanese language is therefore significant for biodiversity studies in Japan."
To further promote use of data, JBIF also runs workshops three times a year–one aimed at case studies and information exchange, one for capacity building (e.g. training in software for mapping georeferenced data), and one for more general topics to promote public discussion.
Reducing the language barrier works by increasing motivation and understanding, however, realizing this significance was very time-consuming. Providing incentives is also effective to increase participation. Expanding engagement and consolidating relationships was also promoted by various meeting opportunities. This was a rather slow process, but important an bottom-up approach. Sometimes, motivation for beginners can be as simple as giving small tips, e.g. how to use functions in Excel.
The number of data providers is steadily increasing, also reflected in the popularity of GBIF in the scientific community in Japan. Currently, 6.8 million occurrence records are available through GBIF.org, and the node is now working on collecting use cases which will be available from the JBIF website.
More information and contact details
For more information please contact node manager of JBIF, Tsuyoshi Hosoya
Materials used for meetings are available from below (in Japanese)