A new agreement in South Africa should help to build much-needed skills in managing information about biodiversity in the region.
The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), which hosts the GBIF national node, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of the Western Cape (UWC) to underpin development of a post-graduate research hub for biodiversity information management.
The MoU is a step towards the longer-term goal of a Southern African Centre of Excellence, aiming to meet a desperate need for research and skills in the field, especially among African countries that are making increased efforts to understand and monitor biodiversity.
Among the fruits of the collaboration so far have been an MsC bursary in biodiversity informatics, supporting a review of African water fowl data from over 200 wetlands in South Africa, and two post-doctoral fellowships. Each is funded by SANBI and based at UWC.
The GBIF nodes in Africa have identified development of research priorities and a curriculum for biodiversity information management as key issues for the region, and this is expected to be a focus of the Africa regional meeting from 16-18 April.