Mobilising Africa’s Biodiversity Data

Title: Mobilizing Africa’s policy and decision-making relevant biodiversity data

Donor: JRS Biodiversity Foundation

Grant size: USD 250,000

Duration: 21 months (October 2013 – June 2015)

Contact: Russell Galt (


African delegates to the 2nd JRS project workshop in March 2014, Pretoria



Conserving Africa’s rich biodiversity in the face of profound socio-economic transformation is a critical challenge for the continent’s policymakers. The success of their efforts demands accessible, relevant and reliable biodiversity data.

Such data underpins good policy and decision-making in the field of natural resources management and indeed, many other sectors. For example, economic policymakers require data on traded biological products like timber, food and medicine; agricultural policymakers require data on pollinators, crop diversity, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs); water policymakers require data on biological indicators and invasive alien species; and health policymakers require data on pathogens and disease vectors.

The process by which species records are captured, digitized and published – to become globally discoverable, freely accessible and easily consumable – is known as biodiversity data mobilization. Whist millions of records have been mobilized in recent years, the nature of these efforts has been predominantly opportunistic, focusing on low-hanging fruits that can be readily published, rather than data of strategic importance to research, policy and decision-making. As such, insufficient data continues to constrain important policy areas.

Adopting a more strategic, purpose-driven, and policy-oriented approach to data mobilization can help to alleviate these constraints. Doing so would constitute a more efficient and effective use of limited conservation resources. To this end, SANBI is received a grant of USD 250,000 from the JRS Biodiversity Foundation to work directly with a network of African biodiversity informaticians to develop a Biodiversity Data Mobilization Strategy for Africa, whilst enhancing regional collaboration and capacity. Key objectives of the project were to:

  • define priority policy-relevant data;
  • conduct a gap analysis of priority data;
  • identify data-holding institutions;
  • foster collaboration and data-sharing between institutions;
  • develop appropriate online support tools; and
  • inform the development of academic curriculum.

This 26 month project built upon the substantial groundwork laid by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Africa Regional Group. The following materials constitute key outputs of the project.


Project documentation:

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