After twelve long months of preparations, the Caribbean Biodiversity Information Portal has finally been launched.
Speaking at the official launching ceremony, which took place at The Savannah Hotel yesterday morning, Assistant Curator of the Natural History Department at the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, Kerron Hamblin, revealed that the project was a year long regional project among the Museum, the University of the West Indies Zoological Museum at the St. Augustine Campus and the National Zoological Collection of Suriname.
“This project aims to improve access to biodiversity data in Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname, and through this information portal it is expected that sharing information about where and when species have been recorded, whether they are museum specimens or geotagged cellphone photos from citizen scientists, can assist in addressing regional priorities such as the impacts of climate change, the spread of invasive species, the need for conservation and protected areas, food security and public health,” he said.
“Currently the portal is just populated with information from the three partner institutions, but naturally, because the natural history collection at the Barbados museum is quite small, there are some gaps in the specimen record for Barbados. Therefore, we need the help of stakeholders, such as yourselves, in closing the knowledge gaps and creating a more accurate picture of Barbados’ biodiversity.”
Speaking to the stakeholders present from the Bellairs Research Institute and The UWI, Cave Hill Campus, Hamblin stressed that it is important to contribute to the portal as national inventories of biodiversity across the region are incomplete and [also] natural history collections as they are small and lack sufficient support.
“This portal that you will be introduced to today, intends to not only provide a clearer picture of biodiversity across the region but also to provide accurate data that could help to more effectively inform decision making, policy and research,” he said.
Paul Ouboter, Head of the National Zoological Collection at the Anton de Kom University in Suriname, echoed Hamblin’s sentiments, noting that the lack of data was a problem, and expressed that it was important for persons to understand the importance of the portal so that they could add information to share with other regional and international entities.