The GBIF network has expanded with the addition of the Republic of Suriname as an associate participant, bringing the total number of national members to 65 countries. Suriname is the 11th country in the Latin America and Caribbean region to join GBIF. The combined network of national and organizational participants now stands at an all-time high of 107 members.
Involvement of Surinamese researchers in three projects funded through the Biodiversity for Development (BID) programme enabled national-scale data mobilization and use before paving the way for national participation in GBIF.
During first phase of BID in the Caribbeean, a national grant led by the National Herbarium of Suriname (BBS) supported the mobilization of Surinamese biodiversity data into GBIF covering lianas, rice weeds and non-timber forest products as well as digitized specimens from the National Zoological Collection of Suriname (NZCS). A second regional grant that included Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago enabled the mobilization of additional datasets from NZCS, including specimens collected during several river and mountain expeditions in Suriname and a multi-year camera-trap monitoring programme in the dense tropical jungle of the Brownsberg nature reserve, 100 km south of the capital, Paramaribo.
Following upon the success of the earlier projects, a third Surinamese BID project is underway now, bringing together partners from BBS, NZCS and the National Institute for Environment and Development Suriname to focus on improving national flows of biodiversity data for use in planning and policy-making. This project has also enabled the mobilization of herbarium specimen data, with another ~50,000 records are expected.
"In recent years, the biodiversity research institutes for Suriname, BBS and NZCS, have put significant steps forward to digitalize information of the biological resources found within our borders," said Ritesh Sardjoe, Permanent Secretary for the for the Environment in the Ministry of Spatial Planning and Environment. "Also, the National Institute for Environment and Development now transitioning to become the National Environment Authority demonstrates their full understanding and dedication to their responsibilities in their unwavering support to the research institutes. These steps are very significant for our country since we are striving toward closing the science-policy gap. At the moment, we are aware of this enormous gap to bridge for our Nation.
"On behalf of the Minister of Spatial Planning and Environment of the Republic of Suriname, H.E. Silvano Tjong-Ahin, we profoundly thank these institutes for their very proactive and progressive initiatives. The Government of Suriname gives full support and encourages further action," Mr Sardjoe continued. "We are fully conscious of the fact that the availability and sharing of information will strengthen research and understanding of our natural resources and consequently lead to sound evidence-based policy towards sustainable development."
Current users of GBIF.org can access nearly half a million species occurrences for Suriname shared by a wide-ranging group of 283 organizations from 34 countries.