Canada resumes full participation in GBIF

Long-time national partner becomes 40th voting participant

Short-tailed swallowtail (Papilio brevicauda) found in eastern Canadian provinces surrounding the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Photo by Jody Allair licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Canada has renewed its commitment to GBIF as a global data infrastructure, rejoining the group of full member countries—formally known as Voting Participants—after a pause of five years.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has re-signed the GBIF Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of the Canadian government. In addition to obtaining voting rights on the GBIF Governing Board, Canada will once again contribute to the international budget for the GBIF network.

An active member of the community since GBIF's founding, Canada has attended all GBIF Governing Board meetings since 2001. The current head of the Canadian delegation, Mark Graham of the Canadian Museum of Nature, also serves as the 2nd Vice-chair of the Governing Board; Christiane Deslauriers of AAFC will succeed him in this role in the coming year.

Canada's national node, the Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility, works closely with GBIF organizational Participant Canadensys to coordinate a national network of publishers that currently shares 121 datasets containing more than 5 million species occurrence records. While three quarters of these are located in Canada, 1.2 million records provide evidence of species occurrences in 230 other countries, islands and territories. Users of have access to more than 32 million records of species occurring in Canada.

Canadian users of rank 9th among all countries with a 12 per cent increase in visits in the past three months. Since 2010, researchers from institutions in Canada have published 107 peer-reviewed papers citing use of GBIF-mediated data in high-impact journals such as Science, Nature and PNAS. Many of these studies received support from grants by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Welcoming the return of Canada as a Voting Participant country, GBIF’s Executive Secretary Donald Hobern commented: “It is fantastic news that Canada has taken this step. While our Canadian colleagues have always remained enormously important partners in the activities of the GBIF network, this is a vote of confidence in the importance of our work on the part of national policy-makers, and it represents a significant step in securing the financial stability of our global infrastructure.”

James Macklin, Canadian node manager, AAFC scientist, and long-time collaborator and contributor to GBIF, expressed his excitement that Canada has restored its status as a Voting Participant: “My Canadian colleagues and I work passionately to capture, manage and disseminate our country’s biodiversity data, which is critical to support, enhance and protect our bio-economy. Rejoining GBIF provides us a stronger voice and access to resources to address national and international priorities for documenting and conserving biodiversity today and long into the future. The Government of Canada is committed to the concept of Open Data, which GBIF exemplifies.”