There is a growing need in the world to generate accurate and detailed information on biodiversity, which can be made available in databases with free and open access, using common standards, which are useful for decision-making based on scientific evidence. This allows us to support the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, promote the obtaining of resources for the creation of capacities, as well as promote the articulation with the institutions that interfere in the matter.
Venezuela is one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world, which accumulate more than 70% of the Earth's biodiversity. Therefore, publicly sharing individual and institutional data on our biodiversity is of great importance not only at the national level, but also at the regional and global level. For this, an essential first step is building necessary capacities among data producers, holders and users to not only recognize the value of data-sharing, but to become fluent in standard data processing and publishing formats.
This project sought to enhance the capacity of Provita, a leading Venezuelan NGO with 35 years of experience, to organize and manage biodiversity data following the Darwin Core and GBIF standards. This capacity building was extended to key members of our large network of research collaborators through a five-week free online training workshop on biodiversity data mobilization.
Within the framework of this project, Provita also became an accredited publisher in the GBIF platform, which allowed us to publish two key checklists compiling valuable information of the conservation status at the national level of the country’s biodiversity, as originally planned in the proposal:
• The Venezuelan Red List of Endemic Trees: compiles the preliminary list of Venezuelan endemic trees that have been assessed following IUCN’s standards, many of them by Provita’s team in the framework of the Global Tree Assessment. A first version was published in December 2021 and an updated version was published in August 2022. Our plan is to continue updating the list as ongoing assessments are completed and published.
• The Venezuelan Red List of Threatened Fauna: compiling 4,079 records covering the entire list of Venezuelan mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and freshwater fish, as well as some invertebrates, for which the risk of extinction was assessed at the national level in 2015 following IUCN's red list standards.
In addition, the project’s team supported the publication of additional datasets from Provita’s Yellow-shouldered Parrot Conservation Program and from the Laboratorio de Sistemas de Información Geográfica y Modelado Ambiental of Universidad Simón Bolívar LSIGMA-USB. Three datasets have already been published (for a combined total of 262 records), and an additional three datasets will be published before the end of September 2022 (for a combined total of 5,901 records).
The eight datasets produced within the framework of the project include checklists, occurrences and sampling events, which allowed our team to further understand the requirements and challenges of different types of datasets, gaining valuable experience to better support our partners in future efforts of biodiversity data mobilization.
Finally, a multi-stakeholder online advocacy forum was held to discuss progress, needs, challenges and opportunities to better achieve the mobilization of national biodiversity data in the country and to promote the establishment of collaboration networks towards this end.
The ultimate goal of the project was to set the base for regular mobilization of biodiversity data from Provita's own projects, as well as from its network of collaborators, in order to ensure that high-quality Venezuelan biodiversity data become available to inform evidence-based decision-making processes in the country.
Between July 2021 and August 2022, our team accomplished all the activities and deliverables originally included in the project proposal:
- Completion of the "BID Capacity enhancement workshop" by three members of the project’s team; two of them received an advanced badge in Biodiversity Data Mobilization.
- Successful completion of an institutional capacity-building workshop on DwC and GBIF standards, with the participation of 12 of Provita’s project coordinators and leaders.
- Successful publication of the checklist of the “Venezuelan Red List of Endemic Trees” through GBIF.org (an updated version of the list was recently published to expand the number or records from 629 to 734; the metadata was also improved).
- Development of a first version of Provita’s institutional biodiversity data management guidelines, to be implemented by our entire team from now on.
- Successful completion of a free introductory online training workshop on biodiversity data mobilization led by our team with 35 participants from academia, research institutions, museums and herbaria, NGOs and government institutions.
- Successful publication of the checklist of the “Venezuelan Red List of Threatened Fauna” through GBIF.org (with 4,079 records).
- Successful publication of three additional datasets from workshop participants (with a combined total of 262 records), and three more datasets expected to be published by 23 September 2022 (with a combined total of 5,901 records).
- Successful completion of a biodiversity data advocacy event; up to 47 people joined the event live, while the recording has received 54 views since its publication.
In addition, our team was able to complete several other relevant activities not originally included in the proposal, including:
- Participation in five other relevant GBIF workshops and short courses, to further build our team’s capacities.
- Completion of introductory and intermediate R courses available in DataCamp by team members, through the license granted by the BID program.
- Partial development of a Venezuelan biodiversity portal, which aims to compile in a simple and friendly platform the data available for our country. The goal is to provide easy access to this information to our less technical audience as well as to serve as an example that incentivizes further collaborations towards the mobilization of data within the country (expected launch for the beta version in November 2022).