Timor-Leste joins GBIF 🇹🇱

Southeast Asian nation becomes the ninth member of the GBIF Asia region and the global network's 42nd voting participant

Thelymitra forbesii Ridl. observed in Timor Leste by Colin Trainor (CC BY-NC 4.0)

The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste has become the 106th member of GBIF's global network, signaling its support and interest in promoting free and open access to biodiversity data with the signing of the GBIF Memorandum of Understanding by Rui dos Reis Pires, director of the National Directorate for Biodiversity in the Ministry of Tourism and Environment.

Located at the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago between Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, Timor-Leste is a convergence zone that harbors a number of globally significant ecosystems and endemic species from Asia and Australia within the Wallacea biodiversity hotspot. This unique setting functions as an epicentre for speciation of a variety of taxonomic groups. Moreover, its nearly 700km coastline makes Timor-Leste an integral component of the Coral Triangle, which hosts 75 per cent of the world's coral species along with six of seven species of marine turtles.

After gaining its independence in 2002, Timor-Leste became a signatory of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in 2007, but has since faced challenges in building necessary capacity around biodiversity-related data.

"By joining GBIF, we hope to strengthen collaboration on data sharing and facilitate access to information for research and monitoring to better understand and protect threatened species and ecosystems," said Pires. "We look forward to collaborating with partners worldwide to equitably advance discovery and innovation that respects biodiversity and traditional knowledge."

Currently, GBIF users can access 82,501 occurrence records of species observed or collected in Timor-Leste. Three quarters of the available data—more than sixty thousand records—come from global citizen science initiatives, eBird and iNaturalist, while specimens from scientific collections in Australia and elsewhere comprising most of the remainder.

"We are delighted to welcome Timor-Leste into the GBIF community as a voting participant," said Joe Miller, GBIF executive secretary. "The nation's commitment to open data access deepens our understanding of its natural heritage and presents a remarkable opportunity to strengthen capacity and enhance data skills in the region."