Viet Nam has joined GBIF as an Associate Participant, bringing the total number of countries participating in GBIF to 57.
The signature of the GBIF Memorandum of Understanding by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MONRE) marks the conclusion of several years of successful engagement with the Vietnamese Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Agency (BCA) around GBIF participation. In 2016, BCA collaborated with Japan’s GBIF node in a project funded by the GBIF-managed Biodiversity Information Fund for Asia (BIFA) to develop the Vietnamese national biodiversity database system and create a road map towards GBIF participation.
BCA also hosted the 2017 GBIF Asia regional meeting in Hanoi, demonstrating the country’s commitment to GBIF engagement and collaboration in the region.
GBIF’s Deputy Director and Head of Participation and Engagement, Tim Hirsch, commented: “Viet Nam’s formal entry into GBIF is very welcome indeed. Improving our participation in Asia is a major priority, and we hope this step will encourage other countries in the region to come on board.”
Dr. Hoang Thi Thanh Nhan, Deputy Director of BCA and Head of Delegation of Viet Nam remarked: “We are delighted to join in the global effort on biodiversity information as GBIF, which significantly supports biodiversity conservation in the world. Viet Nam is willing to cooperate with partners to promote the development of GBIF.”
Another Vietnamese-led project funded through BIFA has recently got under way, specifically to mobilize and digitize bryophyte and lichen specimens in the herbarium managed by the Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City.
As one of the world’s most biologically diverse countries, Viet Nam is home to 10 percent of the world’s mammal, bird and fish species, and 40 per cent of local plants are found nowhere else in the world. According to IUCN Red List assessments, more than 100 species present in Viet Nam are critically endangered, including 14 endemic Camellia species.
Users of GBIF.org can currently access about 350,000 species occurrences in Viet Nam from 209 publishers based in 33 different countries. Major contributors to data about Vietnamese biodiversity include the eBird observational dataset from Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Museum of Natural History, Paris and Missouri Botanical Garden, whose combined records account for 50 per cent of species occurrences in Viet Nam. With the country’s entry into GBIF, these records will be supplemented by data mobilization from collections and monitoring activities within Viet Nam itself. Researchers associated with institutions in Viet Nam have published five peer-reviewed journal articles citing substantive use of GBIF-mediated data.