The main goal of GBIF is to provide free and open online access to global biodiversity data supporting at the same time scientific research, conservation, and sustainable development.
The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is an inter-governmental organization funded by different countries and aimed to provide free and open online access to global biodiversity data supporting at the same time scientific research, conservation, and sustainable development. GBIF is a network of national nodes with an international Secretariat settled in Copenhagen. Thanks to GBIF, data providers around the world have available common open-access standards and tools used to share information about the place and time they have found a determined species. Currently (September 2021), GBIF comprises 61 countries, 40 organizations and 1,796 data providers (https://www.gbif.org/the-gbif-network).
GBIF framework and background
GBIF has its origin in 1999, when an OCDE working group called “Mega Science Forum Working Group” started to launch scientific initiatives of fundamental interest, but which were not viable for any country due to its extent. In the report of this working group, it was agreed that an international mechanism was needed in order to make biodiversity data and information globally available. As a result, this mechanism might generate lots of economic and social benefits and allow the sustainable development by providing a solid scientific evidence. The Ministries of Science from the OCDE supported the recommendation of creating a Global Biodiversity Information Facility, in which each country would join as a member with the commitment of establishing a national node, as an access point to the biodiversity information of that country, and contribute with own funds to the initiative.
In 2001, GBIF was formally constituted by a Memorandum of Understanding among the participant governments. In 2002, the GBIF Secretariat is established in Copenhagen. In 2003, the first annual working plan is created and the first call for projects and contracts are made. From 2007, the initial prototype is working as an operational system. In 2010, at the 17th GBIF Governing Board Meeting hosted in Suwon (South Korea), GBIF’s future was assured by the approval of a new «Memorandum of Understanding», giving continuity to the network indefinitely. A budget for the organization covering the next 5 years was accepted. Delegations furthermore unanimously adopted the GBIF «Suwon Declaration» that underlines the importance of the GBIF network to governments and its relevance to science, conservation, and sustainability.
About GBIF Spain
February 2001 is the date when GBIF Spain (GBIF.ES) is created. It is the date when the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Thus, Spain became a member and voting participant of GBIF.
The Ministry of Science and Technology (now Ministry of Economy, Industry, and Competitiveness) commissioned the Spanish High Council of Research (CSIC) to initiate and coordinate the activities of GBIF in Spain (see the Government Official Journal, BOE). The CSIC, with support and advice of the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales and the Real Jardín Botánico established the Coordination Unit, located at the Real Jardín Botánico since June 2003. Our main task is to make biodiversity information available to everyone. This information, proceeding from Spanish projects and institutions, will be upgraded, standardized, and scientifically validated. We coordinate all activities related to the Spanish GBIF network.
GBIF.ES is organized as a distributed infrastructure build by entities from all Spanish regions (research institutes, universities, environmental governments, citizen science initiatives, etc.) together with the Coordination Unit. Spain currently shares through the GBIF network over 46.1 million records of biodiversity (September, 2021) under a common standard, including quality control procedures and mechanisms for evaluation and data reuse. Check all the information about the Spanish data providers.
The main mission of GBIF.ES is to support natural history collections, institutions, and relevant biodiversity projects in order to gain their participation by…
- Supplying them with technical support, information, training, standards, software, and advice.
- Providing coherence between national initiatives and the GBIF information architecture in order to assure interoperability.
- Analyzing how to maximize the data value by developing tools for data analysis, validation, and visualization.
- Compiling and distributing relevant information to the benefit of collections as well as to our knowledge of biodiversity and its management.
- Coordinating the activities of the institutions and international initiatives.
In order to be able to develop the functions described above, GBIF.ES provides a number of services for users.
Relevance of GBIF.ES in a world scale
With more than 46.1 million published records of biodiversity*, Spain is still among the top eleven countries mobilizing more data to GBIF network. More information at https://www.gbif.org/country/ES/publishing.
In addition, from the GBIF.ORG statistics for Spain (2020) can be seen that our country is one of the most active countries in biodiversity data usage. Spain is globally situated in the 8th position regarding data download requests (8,981) and 4th in web traffic to GBIF.ORG website (133,274 sessions). The high level of usage of GBIF platform in our territory is an indicator of the importance of the biodiversity research in Spain and the relevance of its management, apart from being a reflection of the grade of implementation of this scientific facility.
*The difference in the total number of records comparing to the international portal is because GBIF International (GBIF.org) includes records uploaded to the eBird app which have been taken in Spain. GBIF Spain (GBIF.ES) does not include these records because they do not necessarily belong to Spanish data providers which are the institutions making up the GBIF Spain network.