Agency alliance formed to develop integrated biodiversity database

An alliance comprising six government agencies was formed Wednesday to share biodiversity information by building an integrated platform to facilitate conservation efforts and raise environmental awareness.

The Taiwan Biodiversity Information Alliance (TBIA) said it will streamline the data kept by its members so policymakers have a clearer view about the country's conservation efforts and how different environmental factors impact one another.

Initial work has already started on the integrated database which is expected to be completed by 2023. It will allow members of the public to search more than 10 million species occurrence records in Taiwan, according to the Forestry Bureau, one of the alliance's founding members.

"The database will help the public learn more about ecosystems and pay more attention to the natural environment," said bureau head Lin Hwa-ching (???) during the TBIA inauguration ceremony.

According to the TBIA, planning to establish the alliance started in 2017 and included the Forestry Bureau, Taiwan Forestry Research Institute and the Endemic Species Research Institute -- all under the Council of Agriculture -- as well as the Biodiversity Research Center under Academia Sinica, the Construction and Planning Agency under the Ministry of the Interior, and the Ocean Conservation Administration under the Ocean Affairs Council.

With each agency collecting different biodiversity information and having different levels of transparency, the agencies felt that a common standard should be established, according to Ke Chih-jen (???), assistant researcher at the Endemic Species Research Institute.

The six government agencies discussed forming an alliance and preparatory work, resulting in the publication of an action book detailing their plans for information sharing between 2021-2025, Ke said.

Now that the database is under development, the public can expect integrated information such as uniform names for species that could previously have had several vernacular names, as well as when and where they were observed, according to the alliance.

There will also be consistent rules regarding the release of sensitive biodiversity data to protect endangered species, it said.

In the future, the database could be expanded to include more information, such as species DNA and supportive multimedia materials, the TBIA said, adding that it will also work to include civic groups devoted to biodiversity data-keeping.

The TBIA said the database could also boost Taiwan's contribution to global conservation efforts as it will be possible to upload data to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, an international organization that focuses on making scientific data on biodiversity available on the Internet.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel