IAALD XIIIth World Congress
organized by Agropolis International

26-29 April 2010, Montpellier, France

Scientific and Technical Information and Rural Development

Information scientifique et technique et développement rural

Highlights of Innovative Practices / Eclairages sur des pratiques innovantes

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Innovations in Biodiversity Information Workshop / Innovations dans l'information sur la biodiversité
organized by Bioversity International and EBHL

Chair :Elizabeth GOLDBERG (Bioversity International) and Roger MILLS (EBHL)

Rapporteur:Vincent JOHNSON (Bioversity International))


1 - Welcome and introduction to the International Year of Biodiversity and the role of information - Stephan Weise, Director Commodities for Livelihoods Programme, Bioversity International (ppt Anne Vésina)

2 - Innovations in Biodiversity Information : Local/National/Regional scope


Information repackaging for the conservation of biodiversity on farmlands in the central districts of Uganda


National Environment Management Authority, Uganda;

Presented by Roger MILLS

Uganda’s economy is primarily agrarian and supports almost 90% of the country’s population, most of which is rural. The country is well endowed with a variety of fertile soils, rainfall and altitude which allow for the production of a variety of crops. Intensive agricultural activities are mainly supported by subsistence and commercial farming and this is often associated with reduction in the value of land in biodiversity. However, information plays a central role in helping to improve management and sustainable use of biodiversity for food production. This therefore ensures agricultural practices that both meets human needs and contribute to sustainable development. This paper discusses the role of biodiversity in agriculture; information repackaging; the significance of information repackaging; functions and key steps in information repackaging, and repackaging as a method of information dissemination to farmers. The paper highlights examples of institutions that have been instrumental in the promotion of agro-biodiversity by repackaging information, their monitoring and evaluation procedures, and feedback mechanisms from farmers in the central districts of Uganda. It also highlights how these mechanisms have led to the improvement of the services provided.

MUTONGOLE-2010-Information repackaging for the conservation-IAALD-Congress-130_b.pdf

Fragfornet, a content management system (CMS) to optimize information and communication within a North-South network


Cemagref, France;

FragforNET is a North-South network platform to communicate, disseminate and archive information and knowledge on forest fragmentation and biodiversity loss http://fragfornet.grenoble.cemagref.fr/. This network intends to become a portal for researchers, stakeholders, policy makers and the public to exchange ideas, knowledge, data, experiences and results on the loss of biodiversity in the remaining native forests of South America. The inspirational ideas behind this network are found on the framework of the “Paris Declaration for the biodiversity" (Paris Conference, January 2005). As the Declaration states, we aim at bringing researchers together from developing countries and reinforcing the links between the North and South in order to work towards an improved protection of the biodiversity. The network, built on a voluntary basis, at present is composed by 42 organizations and research institutes from 17 countries. It comprises experts and researchers from 15 universities; 4 public institutions; 2 NGO’s; a National park and 2 Forest secretaries at the Ministerial level, and 15 specialized libraries and documentary services. The activities in relation to the spread of information and access to documentation focus on two main aspects: Development of information access and communication tools, and enhancement of the identification of documentary centres and specialised libraries by the creation of a common directory. Librarians within the network, organise the access to knowledge. They target the specific resources for users needs within the network. Actions are being done to contribute to an information portal about forest conservation (SIDALC). The Open-access literature in the field is also targeted. By cooperating together in a flexible network we intend to develop actions according to the priorities of regional, national and North-South’s interests in order to implement an effective information access for experts working in forest biodiversity loss.

REGOLINI-2010-Fragfornet, a content management system-IAALD-Congress-204_b.pdf

Afribes: Cross-cutting intelligence on biodiversity and ecosystems services in Africa

Maxime THIBON2, Didier BABIN2, Driss EZZINE DE BLAS1, Thierry HELMER1

1CIRAD, France; 2Outils Réseaux, Association Biodiv-Net, NGO, France;

In 2005, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) was the first global assessment tasked with measuring ecosystem services for human well-being worldwide.

In 2006, an international consultation was launched to assess the need, scope and options for an International Mechanism of Scientific Expertise on Biodiversity (IMoSEB). The African consultation provided a set of needs and recommendations for how knowledge could be better harnessed to meet needs of African biodiversity stakeholders: develop a spirit of information sharing; consider a wiki type system; create synergy between possessors of traditional knowledge and scientists, and South–South cooperation.

After completion of IMoSEB consultation and the MA Follow-up, UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) took the lead to set-up an Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

An African social network could be seen as one of the means to create and strengthen social ties among African communities, researchers, and policymakers, and contribute to IPBES efforts. Such a social network could also bring real added-value to existing information and expertise, while fostering their dissemination and use in decision-making processes for sustainable development.

This social network on biodiversity and ecosystem, based on Web 2.0 technologies, and characterized by user participation, openness, interconnectivity and interactivity of web-delivered content will allow envisaging: building up African collective and distributed intelligence; peer-to peer networking; fostering dialogue; emancipating people and communities; creating a forum between information suppliers and producers, and establishing an E-learning capacity building centre.

The development of AfriBes in 2010 will go through its representation as a case study of the EC-FP SPIRAL (Science-Policy Interface for Biodiversity) project and within the possible CIRAD “Biodiversity and Agri-Cultures” project.


Webusers interacting in PROTA information system

Joash GOMBA1, Stefan BERTRUMS2

1PROTA, Plant Resources of Tropical Africa, Nairobi, Kenya; 2PROTA, Plant Resources of Tropical Africa, Wageningen, the Netherlands;

For the past decade, PROTA has compiled and synthesized information on species of useful plants of tropical Africa and made this information available in both English and French using web databases, books and CDs. By documenting the best practices, PROTA contributes to a sustainable rural development in tropical Africa. This effort is coordinated and executed in PROTA network offices in Africa and Europe. Specialists from within and from outside the network contribute as authors and editors.

To streamline synthesis of the c. 8000 plant species with a documented use, PROTA classified the plant species into commodity groups. Several commodity groups are worked on simultaneously by different teams of editors and authors.

PROTA has disseminated this information in review articles per species through a freely accessible web database. Users regularly download and disperse the information contained in the articles.

By late 2008 PROTA realized that a more interactive approach would improve the quality and speed of filling records in the web database and will provide a wider platform for plant information exchange in Africa. As such, an advanced web database christened PROTA4U will be opened-up to users who will be able to comment on reviewed articles and contribute through a wiki on non-validated articles.

Early 2010, PROTA4U will be launched with records on all the species available to the public, providing open avenues of publishing scientific information. Non-validated species records will contain information from PROTA’s internal databases. Both novice and scientific users will fact-check, create and augment plant information.

In the course of 2010 each species record will be filled with appropriate information mined from the internet, providing a pool of information available to users, offering greater opportunities to exchange and update information. PROTA4U will also contain illustrations, geographic distribution maps, color images, and other demand driven products.

GOMBA-2010-Webusers interacting in PROTA information system-IAALD-Congress-228_b.pdf

3 - Innovations in Biodiversity Information: Global scope

Local solutions to address global challenges facing farmers and indigenous peoples


The Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research / Bioversity International, Italy;

Poor farmers and indigenous people face livelihoods challenges due to climate change, inappropriate local land policies and limited access to land and knowledge resources. Climate change and poor policies which lead to encroachment and land appropriation force ever more intensive land use and monocropping. This environmental degradation and cultural erosion further undermine rural communities. Along with lack of access to resources such as seeds, farmers often also lack the knowledge and networks that could offer solutions. How can the rural poor benefit from the experience of others facing similar problems? The PAR is offering a web-based knowledge sharing resource that allows interested parties to share and gather information on line. It's an online resource for collating, synthesizing and disseminating agrobiodiversity knowledge. It makes available useful tools and practices that support improved use of agrobiodiversity and identifies areas where information is lacking and new knowledge is needed. To foster a growing community of practice dealing with agrobiodiversity and allow users to learn and transfer technologies while appreciating the value of traditional knowledge, we will encourage stakeholders to share experiences. Delegates will be presented with examples from the Knowledge Base that illustrate some of the diverse solutions used by poor farmers and indigenous peoples elsewhere. We will showcase locally owned, low cost and easily replicable responses to the threats of climate change and changing land access and use of resources. In Rajasthan for example, farmers are selecting, conserving and using drought and flood-resistant or salt-tolerant varieties, while in Bangladesh floating gardens are being used to grow crops where land has become scarce due to flooding. The PAR has been active in promoting agrobiodiversity research relevant to communities since 2006. It identifies gaps in knowledge, gathers and disseminates innovative local practices and builds partnerships between farmers, indigenous peoples, communities and research.

BORDONI-2010-Local solutions to address global challenges facing farmers and indigenous peoples-IAALD-Congress-175_b.pdf

A global information portal to facilitate and promote accessibility and rational utilization of ex situ plant genetic resources for food and agriculture

Mohamed Fawzy Farag NAWAR, Michael MACKAY

Bioversity International, Rome, Italy;

Plant genetic resources of food and agriculture (PGRFA) conserved in 1500 ex situ genebanks are critical sources of biodiversity, not only for general conservation efforts and agricultural production, but also for identifying the genetic variation necessary to address pertinent global issues, including food security and adaptation to climate change. Access and use of these genebanks depends on ensuring information regarding accessions (or holdings) is available to PGRFA users, including plant scientists and breeders. Numerous systems detailing information on accessions conserved in genebanks currently exist; not all are electronic, available online or include that data most helpful for utilization. Some systems are specific to a single genebank, others cover a network of genebanks based on regions, organizations or crops. Virtually all existing online systems provide only primary identification information, known as passport data, and exhibit many empty values when compared to data fields of the international standard, the Multi-Crop Passport Descriptors (MCPD). A global portal is being developed to address the limitations of existing systems and to offer integrated and structured solutions. The global portal will provide an opportunity to link and enhance existing systems; facilitate participation of new systems; remedy the limited information presently available in systems; expand data types to include phenotypic (or characterization and evaluation), environmental and spatial information, with the possibility to also include genetic information; and provide realistic access with query functions reflecting how plant scientists and breeders identify and select accessions for research. Most importantly, the global portal will provide utilities for genebanks not presently online to easily add and exercise full control of their data within the portal. This will contribute to the Global Information System mandated by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture to ensure genetically unique diversity is effectively and efficiently conserved and available for long-term use.

NAWAR-2010-A global information portal to facilitate and promote accessibility and rational utilization-IAALD-Congress-1_b.pdf

SEP-CEPDEC: Facilitating access and use of biodiversity data to underpin sustainable development in African and Asian francophone countries

Melianie RAYMOND1, Eric CHENIN2, Régine VIGNES-LEBBE3, Anne Sophie ARCHAMBEAU3, Juan Carlos BELLO1

1Global Biodiversity Information Facility, Copenhagen, Denmark; 2Sud Expert Plantes, France; 3GBIF-France, MNHN, Paris, France;

‘Sud Expert Plantes’ (SEP) is an initiative launched by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs to support the efforts of developing countries in Western and Middle Africa, the Indian Ocean and South East Asia to know, preserve and sustainably use their plants and associated genetic resources. The Capacity Enhancement Programme for Developing Countries (CEPDEC) designed by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) helps developing countries to integrate the use of biodiversity data in education, science, policy, and decision-making at all levels. SEP-CEPDEC, established in 2006 by the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) and the GBIF Secretariat, is a three-year collaboration aimed at facilitating the access and use of biodiversity data among the 22 countries involved in SEP, within the framework of the UN Millennium Development Goals. Countries participating are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Guinea, Madagascar (GBIF members), Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Burundi, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo, D.R. Congo, Gabon, Rwanda, Comoros, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam (SEP participants). With GBIF-France as a mentor, SEP-CEPDEC supports the establishment of National Biodiversity Information Facilities (NBIFs) by the five GBIF member countries, following an action plan developed during the CEPDEC pilot project to establish the Tanzania NBIF (www.tanbif.or.tz). The SEP-CEPDEC collaboration provides all the SEP participants with training opportunities on the establishment of NBIFs, including the use of free and open-source GBIF Informatics Infrastructure to gain access to 190 million biodiversity data records shared via the GBIF data portal (Nov 09) and to support further data publication. Workshops in 2010 will focus on data management and analysis. SEP-CEPDEC contributes to growing the GBIF biodiversity data commons and promoting data sharing with countries of origin, ensuring biodiversity data are made freely and openly available as mandated by biodiversity-related conventions including the Convention on Biological Diversity (Decision VII/11).



Meeting the information challenge for crop wild relatives _in situ_ conservation: A global portal hosting national and international data on CWR.


1Bioversity International, Italy; 2CWR Armenia; 3Institute of Genetics and Plant Experimental Biology, Academy of Sciences Republic of Uzbekistan; 4Centre National de la Recherche Appliquée au Développement Rural - FOFIFA, Madagascar; 5Horticulture Crops Development & Research Institute (HORDI), Sri Lanka; 6VBRFMA/DGBAP - FUNDECO, Bolivia;

Crop wild relatives (CWR) can be defined as wild species more or less genetically related to crops, but unlike them, have not been domesticated. CWRs are under major threat and continue to be seriously under conserved. Climate change predictions indicate that 16-22% of Arachis, Solanum and Vigna species could go extinct by 2055. Paradoxically many CWRs harbor genetic traits that could hold the key for crops to adapt to climate change. In this context, a global UNEP-GEF supported project involving Armenia, Bolivia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan, and coordinated by Bioversity International, was implemented (2004 – 2010) to enhance in situ conservation of CWR. The project included a major component on information management as baseline studies indicated this was a major gap for effective CWR conservation decision-making. During the project, all 5 countries brought together pre-existing and new data on CWR in one or more national databases, all based on the same set of descriptors. Pre-existing data was gathered in each country from a variety of sources, available in different electronic formats or often not even digitized. New occurrence data on CWR was gathered during numerous field surveys. Given the different national contexts and varying levels of expertise and use of software programmes, all five national inventories have been designed according to appropriate national needs. Detailed information for hundreds of CWR species is now available. The national information systems are complemented by a global portal that provides access to CWR information at global level at www.cropwildrelatives.org. All national inventories are searchable through the portal. Further resources on CWR provided by the portal include publications, searches for projects and experts, news, images. The portal has been developed using a content management system (Typo3) which provides for ease of management and updating ensuring the portal remains an important global resource for those engaged in CWR conservation.

THORMANN-2010-Meeting the information challenge for crop wild relatives _in situ_ conservation-IAALD-Congress-197_b.pdf

Developing tools for plant identification in the field

Roger MILLS, Anne Marie TOWNSEND

Oxford University Library Services, United Kingdom;

Identifying tropical forest plants in the field is often difficult, and published data for equatorial species are relatively sparse by comparison with Europe. Greater understanding of plant diversity in local communities contributes to the long-term sustainability of rural livelihoods. By developing local field guides that can be used by non-experts, better forest inventories can be produced, plant growth and yield studies made more precise, and costly mis-identification of timber and other forest products avoided. Efforts are being made in a number of institutions to develop tools that will enable local communities to access recorded information stored in libraries and herbaria, and to contribute their own local knowledge which can then enhance global understanding of world resources. By accurately linking local and scientific species names, foresters, farmers and other land users are enabled to check whether species are globally rare, locally used, toxic, dangerous to livestock, nutritious or self-fertile, etc. There can also be benefits in developing eco-tourism, with more knowledgeable local people able to earn more as guides; and published field guides can themselves generate income, both as practical tools and as souvenirs for tourists. This presentation focuses on the Virtual Field Herbarium (VFH) designed at the University of Oxford, now an operational tool and growing in content. The project provides guidance, literature and images to allow the development of local field guides, helping users explore the range of plant characteristics which are particularly useful in field guides. Developed in conjunction with partners in Ghana, Cameroon, Grenada and Mexico, and with other related projects, the VFH offers a database and website accessible in the field by mobile phone.

MILLS-2010-Developing tools for plant identification in the field-IAALD-Congress-254_b.pdf

4 - Discussion on opportunities and challenges for innovation in biodiversity information
Moderator : Barbara HUTCHINSON, Assistant Director, Agricultural Experiment Station College of Agriculture & Life Sciences and Director, International Program Development, University of Arizona
Rapporteur : Vincent JOHNSON
Discussion panelists: Michael MACKAY, Bioversity ; Gina DOUGLAS, Linnean Society ; Frederico SANCHO, IICA

Agropolis International publication - ISBN 978-2-909613-03-1

IAALD2010 Web Site : iaald2010.agropolis.fr - Contact : iaald2010@agropolis.fr