Tajikistan joins GBIF as associate participant

Addition of mountainous Central Asian republic further expands map of participation in the region

Fritillaria bucharica
Fritillaria bucharica Regel collected in Tajikistan by R. Jones for the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh living collections (CC BY-NC 3.0)

The GBIF participants' list has grown to 104 by welcoming Republic of Tajikistan into the network. With the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding by the President of the National Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan (NAST), Farhod Rahimi, Tajikistan increases GBIF representation in Central Asia, with the neighboring country of Uzbekistan having joined in 2020.

"Joining GBIF marks an important breakthrough for internationalization and data progress for biodiversity research at the Academy and the entire country", said Professor Abdusattor Saidov, Vice-President of NAST. "Establishing the national delegation and the national node will be followed by various data activities, and we welcome partnerships and collaborative projects."

In addition to Acad. Rahimi and Professor Saidov, the newly appointed Tajikistani delegation to GBIF will include Dr. Bakokhoja Bobozoda, Director of the Institute of Botany, Plant Physiology and Genetics at NAST, which will host the new node responsible for coordinating national-scale GBIF activities.

The participation of Tajikistan in GBIF is linked directly to the involvement of passionate local researchers in the GBIF Norway-led BioDATA programme, in particular Mrs. Mukhabbat Mamadalieva from the non-governmental organization Zan va Zamin (in English, "Women and Earth") and Professor Akobir Mirzorakhimov from the Tajik State Pedagogical University. Tajikistan is the fourth country involved in the BioDATA programme to join GBIF, demonstrating one measure of success for this international collaboration in higher education funded by the Directorate for Higher Education and Skills under the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research.

"I am very excited to welcome Tajikistan to the GBIF network and anticipate an increase in data flows and collaborations," said Dmitry Schigel, Scientific Officer at the GBIF Secretariat. "Greater availability of biodiversity data will certainly support local and international research."

"The progress towards GBIF participation following each BioDATA event has been impressive", said Hugo de Boer, research director at the University of Oslo Natural History Museum and head of the Norwegian delegation to GBIF. "The support from local partners in organizing the BioDATA courses has been invaluable, but we also acknowledge also the teaching curriculum developed and provided by the GBIF community collectively."

The predominantly mountainous Republic of Tajikistan encompasses five terrestrial ecoregions, and most of the country is located over 3,000 metres above sea level. The climate ranges from hot and arid in the southernmost regions of the Khatlon province to icy glaciers in the highest areas of the autonomous province of Gorno-Badakhshan in the eastern part of the country.

Floral diversity in Tajikistan is high with as many as 35 per cent of plants endemic to the country and more than 1,000 wild relatives of cultivated plants. Rare and threatened species in the country include 226 plant species and 162 animal species. Ten per cent of birds are rare or endangered, with falcons and bustards in the most critical situation.

Currently, users of the GBIF portal can access more than 50,000 species occurrences in Tajikistan published by 157 publishers across 30 countries. Around 20 per cent of these currently come from the Moscow University Herbarium (MW), but national digitization initiatives promise an increase of available data from Tajikistan collections.