United Kingdom returns as GBIF Voting Participant

Renewed commitment signals support of national stakeholders in one of the network's founding countries

Red kite (Milvus milvus), observed in Buckinghamshire, UK. Photo 2023 Paul Lewis via iNaturalist Research-grade Observations, licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, one of the 23 founding national members of GBIF, has returned to Voting Participant status.

With the signature of Dr Cheryl Case of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and other UK consortium members on the voluntary Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the United Kingdom has rejoined the 42 other national governments that contribute financially to GBIF’s core global budget.

"Here at the Natural History Museum we are committed to making our world-leading global collection of over 80 million scientific specimens accessible to researchers from all over the world, both in person and online, with over 37 billion digital data downloads to date," said Tim Littlewood, Executive Director of Science at the Natural History Museum, London. "We are delighted that the UK is renewing its commitment to the GBIF, staunch supporters of the Museum’s ambitious digitization programme and a critical part of the global science infrastructure as we continue to tackle the planetary emergency."

With the renewed commitment, the UK delegation will again exercise its voting rights during GBIF's annual Governing Board meetings, which set the network's strategic direction and the Secretariat's annual work programmes.

The revitalized national consortium includes:

The NBN Trust will continue its crucial role in coordinating national activities as the UK's GBIF node.

“We are delighted to have the United Kingdom back in the fold as a voting participant of GBIF," said Liam Lysaght, chair of the GBIF Governing Board. "The country's unique and long tradition of natural science and natural history places it on the cutting edge of biodiversity research. Having their wealth of knowledge and experience at the table will be of great benefit to the network as we mobilize efforts to reverse biodiversity loss and support the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework."

British publishers and data users have remained critically important to GBIF's global success by every measure. The 164 data-publishing institutions comprise GBIF's third-largest national network, which receives overall coordination through the node housed within the National Biodiversity Network. Collectively, these organizations share (155 million occurrence records), comprising the third-largest national contribution, trailing only the United States and France.

The United Kingdom is also home an equally prolific community of data users comprising the tenth-largest national audience of users of GBIF.org, who are responsible for making the seventh greatest number of downloads in the world. These requests support the third-most peer-reviewed uses of GBIF-mediated data by researchers in a country to date and fourth-most for 2023.

Fifteen national partners are using GBIF infrastructure to share data from the UK's scientific collections through the DiSSCo UK data portal, which leverages both the GBIF hosted portal service and community-curated content from the Global Registry of Scientific Collections (GRSciColl). This framework enables access and usage tracking for the more than 11 million digitized specimen records already available through GBIF, even as it represents just an initial fraction of the holdings of the UK's estimated 650 natural science collections, which DiSSCo UK aims to empower through collections digitization and data enrichment.

With the welcome return of the United Kingdom as a voting participant in good standing, GBIF wishes to acknowledge and express its appreciation to DEFRA, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, NERC and NHM London for their ongoing supplementary funding during the period of the UK's associate membership.