Leonardo Buitrago selected to provide project support in the Caribbean

Colombian biodiversity informatics researcher will build on international experience to help support and develop the region's community of practice

Kankintú anole (Anolis ginaelisae), Panama. Photo 2019 Leonardo Buitrago via iNaturalist Research-grade Observations, licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

The GBIF Secretariat has selected Leonardo Buitrago to support the European Union-funded Biodiversity Information for Development (BID) programme by assisting project teams and helping develop the GBIF network's community of practice in the Caribbean. Under the two-year agreement, Buitrago will building on extensive ties to and knowledge of the GBIF network to share guidance on best practices and technical assistance to the region's 18 project teams recently funded through BID (public announcement to follow) and encourage long-term engagement with current members of GBIF's network in Latin America and the Caribbean.

"Strengthening regional capacity is at the heart of the BID programme, so we're excited to increase the support we offer to BID-funded projects in the Caribbean with the addition of Leonardo to our team," said Maheva Bagard Laursen, GBIF programme coordinator. "Having a person to provide dedicated technical and mentoring support and share best practices will help the project teams achieve their objectives and foster long-term engagement with GBIF's global communities of practice."

Leonardo Buitrago is a biodiversity informatics researcher who has previously worked for both SiB Colombia and the GBIF Secretariat and as an independent consultant. His diverse experience in a range of roles makes him well-suited to support and coordinate the interdisciplinary team and wider networks of supporters needed to develop, maintain and improve biodiversity information systems.

During his tenure on staff at SiB Colombia between 2014 and 2019, Mr Buitrago supported the process of publishing several key datasets that filled nationwide data gaps, including the checklists of mammals, freshwater fishes and birds. During his last two years, he served as node manager with a responsibility to ensure data quality while maintaining and implementing international standards and guidelines for Colombia's biodiversity data.

In 2020, Mr Buitrago supported the worldwide GBIF community while providing technical help-desk assistance as part of the Secretariat's Data Products team. He also worked closely with the Participation and Engagement team to assess and improve the quality of data shared by Asian publishers through the Biodiversity Information Fund for Asia (BIFA) programme.

Most recently, Mr Buitrago has helped GBIF Ecuador develop technical guidelines for biodiversity data management and a proposal for the national governance model. These materials will enable Ecuador's Ministry of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition to document and establish effective and structured methods for using biological data from the country's organizations as a regulatory tool.

While Mr Buitrago will focus on supporting projects in the Caribbean, their appointment complements and coincides with that of Kudzai Mafuwe, Laban Musinguzi and Tsiky Rabetrano, who will support BID-funded projects in sub-Saharan Africa. The hiring of all four regional-support contractors responds to a recommendation in the CODATA 20-Year Review of GBIF to strengthen the network's Participant nodes by stabilizing and extending the regional networks both in Africa and in Latin America and the Caribbean.

See also Call for project support proposals in Asia: deadline 7 Sept 2021

 This programme is funded by the European Union.