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Global biodiversity Information facility. (ehpnet).

In 1996, the Megascience Forum Working Group on Biological Informatics of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) determined that, although research has gathered a wealth of biodiversity and ecosystem information, the information is so scattered and inaccessible that its utility, is wasted. So in 2001, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) was established at the University of Copenhagen to serve as an international mechanism to make this information widely and freely available to anyone with Internet access. One tool it uses to do this is its website, located at http://www.gbif.org/.

The primary goal, of the, GBIF is to link biodiversity databases from around the world into one easily accessible network. Dissemination of biodiversity information is necessary for establishing the benefits of studying and conserving natural resources so that they can used sustainably to take advantage of their immense economic, medical, social, and scientific potential. Despite the vast potential that lies, in these resources, everyday, somewhere in the world, extinction claims 100 species of plants, animals, and microbes.

The Facility link on the home page takes visitors to information about the GBIF's background, mission, and organization. All OECD countries have been invited to join the GBIF. To date 21 countries have become voting participants in the facility's activities, with 3 others pending full membership and 10 associate participants who agree to share their biodiversity data and to develop electronic methods for accessing it. Membership also includes nongovernmental groups such as the United Nations Environment Programme, BioNET-International, and the Expert Center for Taxonomic Identification

The GBIF has prepared pages, under the Work Programmes link, describing each of its four key action areas: data access and database interoperability, electronic cataloguing of names of known organisms, digitization-of natural history collection data, and outreached capacity building. Activities under these programs include developing and maintaining an electronic catalogue of names of known organisms to serve as a reference resource for standardizing, taxonomic work, and compiling an electronic handbook on the best practices for preparing digital images of specimens to share worldwide.

The website also provides a collection of over 100 related websites, under Related Links, organized by seven categories. These include international conventions and agreements; biodiversity search engines, tools, and software; and biodiversity research institutions and collections. Partnerships that the GBIF has developed with 15 international and regional organizations are described on the Relationships pages. The GBIF works with these groups to avoid duplication of effort and to gain essential input on its programs from experts in related disciplines. Among these organizations are Species 2000, the International Working Group on Taxonomic Databases, the Global Registry of Migratory Species, the European Environmental Agency, and the InterAmerican Biodiversity Information Network.

Information about the Ebbe Nielsen Prize, awarded by the GBIF, is also available. The prize provides $35,000 for the chosen promising young researcher to do biodiversity work outside his or her country of residence for up to six months. It was awarded for the first time in 2002 to Nozomi Ytwo Of Japan, developer of a new database model called Nomencurator that tracks the conception, change, and use of scientific nomenclature over time.
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Author:Dooley, Erin E.
Publication:Environmental Health Perspectives
Date:Nov 1, 2002
Words:521
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