Kafa Biosphere Reserve (KBR) is a home to the last surviving moist evergreen montane forests in the eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot. This biosphere reserve covers an area of more than 7500 km², of which 47 per cent is covered with forests. Origin and center of Coffea arabica’s genetic diversity, KBR serves as a globally significant in situ gene bank.
While the fauna and flora of KBR and other parts of southwestern Ethiopia have been studied to some degree, data remains unorganized and inaccessible to local and international researchers and conservationists, in part due to a lack of personnel trained in biodiversity information management.
Led by researchers from Jimma University, this project will establish a regional database for fauna and flora of the protected areas of the KBR and the southwestern region of Ethiopia. The establishment of this online database will provide access to all available species, serving as a biodiversity information hub. In addition, the team will establish a biodiversity information management and training center to provide knowledge to relevant stakeholders in Ethiopia on data management, quality and use.
This project started with a national stakeholder meeting and subsequently the distribution of a letter and call for stakeholders to be involved with developing a biodiversity data sharing policy. By the end of the year, the project team is expected to present this proposed policy to the office of the Prime Minister and it is hoped that this will raise awareness the necessity of a sound biodiversity data sharing policy for Ethiopia.
The project has been progressing with activities to support a data sharing policy including a data management manual which has been drafted and will be amended with support from stakeholders at a coming meeting. The project has also been working on training students on biodiversity data mobilisation and a knowledge dissemination session has been planned in the next coming months. Through the project, Jimma University has been registered with GBIF as a biodiversity data publisher and three datasets have been published for Birds, Macroinvertebrates and Vegetation in addition to a dataset from NABU.