Zimbabwe becomes voting participant in GBIF

Southern African country becomes the region's 10th voting Participant and the 45th full member worldwide

Peters s Epauletted Fruit Bat (Epomophorus crypturus Peters, 1852) observed in Zimbabwe by suzannevf. Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

Reaffirming its dedication to open biodiversity data sharing, Zimbabwe has transitioned from Associate to Voting Participant in GBIF with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding by Abraham Z. Matiza, head of Zimbabwe's National Biodiversity Office in the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate.

"We are delighted to elevate our commitment within the GBIF family," said Matiza. "In the face of growing environmental challenges such as climate change and habitat loss, our collaboration with GBIF is crucial. It empowers us to enhance biodiversity data sharing, fulfill our international conservation obligations, and support sustainable development."

Since joining GBIF in 2018, with its node hosted by Bindura University, Zimbabwe has proactively strengthened its GBIF node and national network, notably through a mentoring project led by GBIF Spain under the Capacity Enhancement Support Programme (CESP). This collaboration focused on improving technical capacity and refining data management practices to ensure Zimbabwe's effective participation in the global biodiversity data network. The project also resulted in two major data holders, the Forestry Commission and the National Herbarium and Botanic Gardens becoming GBIF publishers, while two datasets about wild food species and economically important trees in Zimbabwe have collectively garnered 140 citations to date.

Zimbabwe has also participated in various projects funded by the Biodiversity Information for Development (BID) programme, including assessing conservation priorities in the Eastern Highlands' freshwater biodiversity, mobilizing data on non-timber forest species in biodiversity hotspots, digitizing arachnid collections from the Matobo Hills at the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe, and mobilizing specimen data on bats and rodents.

"We are thrilled to welcome Zimbabwe back as a voting participant in GBIF," said Joe Miller, GBIF executive director. "Zimbabwe's involvement is vital for addressing data gaps in Southern Africa and fostering regional biodiversity data collaboration."

Located in southern Africa, Zimbabwe boasts diverse biogeographic regions, from the montane forests of the Eastern Highlands to the savannas and grasslands of the central plateau and the semi-arid areas in the south and west. Forests and woodlands cover 53 per cent of the land area, with over a quarter situated on state lands such as national parks, wildlife reserves, and forest reserves.

Despite facing environmental challenges such as deforestation, soil erosion, land degradation, pollution, and poaching—which has significantly reduced the once-largest herd of black rhinoceroses—Zimbabwe remains committed to conservation and sustainable practices to protect its unique biodiversity.

The country's data mobilization efforts have seen a significant leap forward, with more than half a million occurrences curated by four publishers across 23 datasets. The node's scope is expanding to incorporate data from universities, research institutions and conservation NGOs, broadening the range of biodiversity monitoring activities nationwide.

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