East Asia Biodiversity Conservation Network welcomed as GBIF Participant

Regional network of of botanic gardens, arboreta and plant research institutes to provide access to biodiversity data for research, ecological conservation and policymaking

Common valerian (Valeriana fauriei Briq), observed in Primorsky Krai in Far Eastern Russia. Photo 2021 Ilya Sukhov via iNaturalist Research-grade Observations, licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

The East Asia Biodiversity Conservation Network (EABCN) has become the 39th organizational participant and 100th member of the GBIF network.

Initially proposed as a regional collaborative network of botanic gardens, arboreta and plant research institutes by Korea Forest Service (KFS), EABCN consists of members from China, Japan, Mongolia, Republic of Korea and the Russian Far East after its adoption at the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2012 in Jeju, Republic of Korea. The EABCN Secretariat, housed at the Korea National Arboretum, pursues an agenda aimed at strengthening training and capacities for its members to implement the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) and conserve regional biodiversity.

In 2014, the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlighted increased risk of grassland desertification and deforestation in East Asia, adding to climate-associated threats already faced by vulnerable plants in the region. In pursuit of shared regional approaches to conservation and restoration, EABCN member staff are assembling an integrated checklist dataset of accepted plant names and synonyms, participate in IUCN Red List species assessments and develop in situ and ex situ conservation strategies.

"Joining GBIF underpins EABCN's mission to support the regional-scale plant conservation, particularly for species with limited distribution in Northeast Asia that are vulnerable to climate change," said Dr Young-tae Choi, Director General of the Korea National Arboretum, Korea Forest Service. "Encouraging researchers to share occurrence data previously unavailable through GBIF network supports our interests in regional research and policy on plant conservation and climate change."

The East Asia Region, with its biodiversity-rich temperate and boreal forests and grasslands, remains highly underrepresented in the GBIF network. It also encompasses a variety of well-conserved and highly inaccessible ecosystems, including the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a strip of land across the Korean Peninsula established as a buffer zone 60 years ago.

"EABCN's involvement in GBIF represents an important step in filling regional information and participation gaps," said Joe Miller, GBIF executive secretary. "With the Korea National Arboretum that hosts the EABCN Secretariat already sharing nearly one million specimen records into GBIF, we are confident that EABCN can leveraging their members' common interests in international cooperation and regional training and capacity building."

Current members of the East Asian Biodiversity Conservation Network