Enriching the Bhutan Biodiversity Portal through digitization and mobilization of specimen collections

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Trachypithecus pileatus
Capped lutung (Trachypithecus pileatus) observed in Trashigang, Bhutan by Yeray Seminario. Photo via iNaturalist (CC BY-NC 4.0).

Recognized globally as a highly biodiverse region, Bhutan is also home to vast specimen collections of flora and fauna, held at environmental agencies such as the National Biodiversity Centre (NBC), Royal University Bhutan (RUB) and Department of Forests and Park Services.

Led by NBC, this project aims mobilize approximately 4,000 records of plants, invertebrates, birds, fishes and mammals from the collections of the Royal University of Bhutan and Department of Forests and Park Services. Data from the project will help enrich the Bhutan Biodiversity Portal (BBP), collecting information on all of Bhutan's flora and fauna, while also contributing to GBIF.

Digitization will provide insights into biodiversity hotspots within the country and possible research gaps in field data collections. The project team also plans to accompany published datasets with data papers to increase visibility and usage. A planned workshop will also help inform participating agencies about the processes involved in data mobilization and the importance of sharing data.

Project progress

This project aimed at digitization of herbarium specimens and making it available through the Bhutan Biodiversity Portal and GBIF, and publishing the biodiversity data from Bhutan onto GBIF.

During implementation the project team learnt that digitization of specimens is a vital part of biodiversity documentation and more importantly, making it available to all. It also learnt how to publish biodiversity data using cloud IPT onto GBIF.

Major project activities have included creating awareness to the public including students and foresters on biodiversity data mobilization in the country. The Bhutan Biodiversity Portal was upgraded from biodiv. 2.0 to biodiv. 3.0 including the upgrade of Android App.

By final reporting the project organized a total of three workshops on the Bhutan Biodiversity Portal (one in August 2020 and two in December 2020, along with which biodiversity data and information were collated, including the collection of some primary data and specimens.

The project also launched the Bhutan Biodiversity Portal User Manual and published several biodiversity checklists with occurrence datasets and over 6,000 occurrence data from the Bhutan Biodiversity Portal.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the project team experienced various travel restraints and delays and had to adjust its implementation accordingly. By the end of the project however, time and funding constraints didn’t allow the team to complete all its planned activities and therefore work to continue these, including the uploading of remaining digitized herbarium specimens, is envisaged.

Post-project progress

In May 2022 the following data paper was published:

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1 July 2020 - 30 December 2021
Project identifier
Contact details

Mr Choki Gyeltshen
National Biodiversity Centre (NBC)
Ministry of Agriculture and Forests
Serbithang, Thimphu 11001