Training adequate manpower for biodiversity data mobilization and conservation is essential for assembling and pooling all the available biodiversity data generated by individual researchers and organizations. Liberia has yet to see sufficient effort to build local capacity in this area, leading to the absence of the country’s biodiversity data on important biodiversity platforms such as GBIF.org.
This project seeks to build capacity of local data collectors, academic institutions, government agencies and other stakeholders to mobilize, process and conserve Liberia’s biodiversity data in standard data sharing formats (DarwinCore) to be published and accessed by national and international data users. Development of such information resources will have important implications for the management and conservation of biodiversity in Liberia and across the West African region.
Coordinated by University of Liberia, in collaboration with the Liberian Forestry Development Authority (Liberia), Fauna and Flora International (Liberia) and the University of Kansas (USA), the project will enhance national capacity for biodiversity data mobilization, processing, management and publishing through multi-stakeholder training workshops for data managers and users in Liberia. Combined efforts will result in mobilization of high-quality occurrence and distribution data for species in Liberia, as well as comprehensive checklists of key fauna and flora species of global conservation concern occurring in the country.
After the project commenced with a biodiversity data and mobilisation workshop for 40 key stakeholders, partners have now made agreements for sharing biodiversity data. About eight biodiversity data holders from institutions have signed agreements to share data and it is expected that more partners will follow suit. Visits to institutions have been organised to collect biodiversity data and provide an orientation to data mobilisation resources and methods. To date, 20 datasets for Liberian biodiversity have been collated and the project team will now begin to clean and format these for publication covering a wide range of species and stakeholder interest from research projects across the country. Further practical training will be carried out at a planned future workshop for around 30 stakeholders and project partners on the core topics in biodiversity informatics, including data mobilisation, cleaning and formatting, publishing and analysis for decision making. The project staff have been able to register two data publishing institutions with GBIF.org for the Forestry Development Authority and University of Liberia and have published six datasets. Through fostering a collaboration with SANBI, an IPT account for Liberia has been set up through the South African node.
12 data holding institutions designated 26 technicians for training in biodiversity data mobilisation, processing and publishing. All the participants were certificated. In heavy data holding institutions, e.g. the Liberian Enivrionmental Protetion Agency (EPA), an extra training were held to help those who needed more training to further enhance their capacity to enter and catalog more data. At the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) a center for processing biodiversity information and data has been established.
A total of 12 datasets (6,138 records) covering five taxonomic groups (plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects) were mobilised and published including some threatened species in each group (the western chimpanzee, pygmy hippo, and the African forest elephant). Additionaly, a bibliograph of the cataologed data is to be made available in soft and hard copies as a source of reference for biodiversity data researchers and users with the intention of avoiding duplications of efforts in generating biodiversity data in the future.