The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) has become the latest organization to join GBIF as an associate participant. Based in Apia, Samoa, SPREP is an independent inter-governmental organization formed in 1993, charged by the governments and administrations of the Pacific region with promoting cooperation, providing assistance in order to protect and improve the environment, and to ensuring sustainable development of the region’s natural resources for present and future generations.
SPREP’s members include 21 Pacific island countries and territories, as well as 5 metropolitan countries with direct interests in the region. Today, users of GBIF.org have access to 2.8 million records of species occurrences from the islands of the SPREP region and their coastal waters.
SPREP’s participation in GBIF is associated with the Pacific phase of the Biodiversity Information for Development (BID) programme, through which five Pacific island projects have recently been funded and are currently underway. SPREP is leading one of these projects, aimed at mobilizing data on invasive alien species in the Pacific islands.
As a GBIF associate participant, SPREP is also expected to play a continuing role as a regional hub to help mobilise data from across the region. During the summer of 2017, SPREP generously hosted the BID training workshop and GBIF regional meeting, attended by BID grantees from the Pacific as well as trainers and mentors from across the GBIF community.
Commenting on SPREP’s participation, GBIF Secretariat’s Deputy Director Tim Hirsch stated: "It is great to have SPREP participating formally in our network. The team there brings enormous expertise in dealing with the particular needs and challenges of the island nations of the Pacific in terms of biodiversity information. Combined with the skills and tools for open data publication shared by the GBIF community through the BID programme, this is a partnership that will have lasting benefits for the Oceania region."
David Moverley, SPREP Invasive Species Adviser added: "SPREP is proud to be the first GBIF node in the Pacific which enables us to assist our members with the publishing of biodiversity data. It will provide a stable and open platform for Pacific islanders to utilise data for better planning and decision making whilst managing their environment."