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A new vision for harnessing data about life on Earth

Experts from around the world are preparing to address the urgent need to improve understanding of the complexities and patterns of global biodiversity.

The Global Biodiversity Informatics Conference (GBIC) will convene 100 leading specialists in biodiversity science, informatics, conservation and policy in Copenhagen, Denmark from 2-4 July.

They will help build the foundations of a new strategy and roadmap to make best use of the growing suite of tools to record and connect data about the living world, providing scientific support for measures to tackle the crisis of biodiversity loss.

Donald Hobern, executive secretary of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), organizers and co-hosts of the conference, launched a vision statement for the event as world leaders approached the climax of their talks in Rio de Janeiro to chart a more sustainable development path for the world.

"In effect, GBIF and its partners are seeking to develop a vision for a 21st-century informatics-based biodiversity science," Hobern observed in a statement addressed to GBIF's participant countries and organizations.

Hobern highlighted the increasing number of tools now available to assist us with measuring, recording and observing biodiversity, including rapid gene sequencing technologies, a wealth of imaging, satellite monitoring and sensor systems, and an army of amateur observers armed with smartphones and global positioning tools.

"The first task for GBIC is therefore to consider the virtual tool-box of instruments that are already at our disposal or just around the corner for observing, measuring and characterizing biodiversity. What tools could we use to build a comprehensive observing/recording network for biodiversity in the next decade?" Hobern added.

"The next task for GBIC will be to understand what we may be able to achieve with these tools at our disposal. Combining different classes of data provided these data are sufficiently comprehensive and reliable may allow us to attack the problems that interest us in completely novel ways.

"Recognizing what may be possible will help to identify the most important areas for investment and for closer collaboration between national, regional and global initiatives. The attendees at GBIC are being brought together to stimulate thinking on these possibilities," Hobern concluded.

The major output of the conference will be a Global Biodiversity Informatics Outlook (GBIO), aiming to set out priorities for the next 5-10 years in order to guide funding agencies and broaden the evidence base for policies to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity.

Contact: Sampreethi Aipanjiguly
Global Biodiversity Information Facility

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