The governments of Cameroon and Liberia have joined GBIF through signature of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), as Associate and Voting Participants respectively.
Institutions in both countries have led projects on data mobilization and building of national biodiversity information networks under the European Union-funded Biodiversity Information for Development, or BID programme. This initiative has helped bring several new countries and organizations into the GBIF network as formal participants—along with dozens more as data publishing institutions—from BID's 'ACP' target regions of sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
With the addition of Cameroon and Liberia, 20 African countries now formally participate in GBIF's intergovernmental network, making Africa the second largest region in terms of country membership, just behind the European region's 21 national participants. Several more African countries are currently discussing GBIF participation.
"Increased membership in Africa has the potential to expand our stakeholder national and regional networks while boosting GBIF's impact throughout this megadiverse continent," said Fatima Parker-Allie of SANBI, GBIF node manager for South Africa, and African regional representative on GBIF's Nodes Steering Group. "GBIF's African nodes provide important open science research infrastructures, not just for mobilizing data and filling knowledge gaps around issues of global change and the bioeconomy, but also for the more strategic role of supporting key international initiatives like the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services."
In Cameroon, the GBIF MoU was signed by the Minister of Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development, Pierre Hele. Institutions based in the country are involved in four projects funded through the BID programme:
- A national grant to develop an accessible biodiversity information system for sustainable development in Cameroon
- A small grant to mobilize data for protection of crops against pest species
- A small grant to mobilize data from protected areas and threatened species in Cameroon
- A small grant to mobilize data on the diversity of bee species in Cameroon
In Liberia, the MoU was signed by the managing director of the Forestry Development Authority, Mike Doryen. The decision to join GBIF as a Voting Participant (national members making a GDP-indexed financial contribution) was made in connection with a small BID grant on building capacity for biodiversity data mobilization and conservation in Liberia, led by the University of Liberia in collaboration with the Forestry Development Authority, Flora and Fauna of Liberia, and the University of Kansas, United States.