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2019 CC0 alliance for biodiversity knowledge

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Advancing the catalogue of the world's natural history collections

Natural history collections are the largest source of data on biodiversity and mineral resources outside nature itself. Collectively, the world's collections include about three billion specimens and document more than 300 years of active human exploration, and fossil remains provide additional glimpses into the planet's deep biological history. Such collections and ancillary materials—including images, collectors’ notes, sequences, measurements, et cetera—contain colossal amounts of data that should be digitized and shared. An estimated 10% of the world’s collections have been digitized, and only a portion of these are publicly accessible through the Internet. The development of a comprehensive catalogue of collections can serve as both as an important first step toward data digitization and mobilization and as a tool for increasing the profile and use of these collections. This open international consultation is the first of three workshops that GBIF will organize under the EU-funded SYNTHESYS+ project. The aim is to develop a common international vision for the scope, content and services for a catalogue of the world's natural history collections, and the consultation is open to participation to interested contributors anywhere in the world. By contributing to the development of sustainable, cost-effective systems for biodiversity informatics networks and communities to manage and use biodiversity information, these efforts align squarely with the goals of the alliance as well as many other partners and stakeholders.


Read the draft ideas paper

The draft ideas paper prepared by the workshop coordinators lays out the scope and initial discussion points for the consultation. We encourage anyone with an interest in natural history collections or in digital access to information on collections to review this paper and participate in the consultation. Participants can share comments and additional points for consideration, by email, on the discussion forum (just request to join first!) or through the preparatory webinars planned for 12 and 13 March 2020.


Register for the March webinars

A pair of preparatory webinars are planned in two time slots to maximize participation of interested stakeholders around the world.

Session #1: Thursday, 12 March 2020, 06:00:00 UTC (GMT) Session #2: Friday, 13 March 2020, 15:00:00 UTC (GMT)

The workshop coordinators hope to use these webinars to:


• Address questions on the goals and execution of the consultation

• Refine the content of the draft ideas paper

• Request contributions to the agenda from those interested in the discussion


People interested in contributing to the consultation can also request to join the discussion forum at any time.

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