Island and Ocean Ecosystems
Helping Pacific islands publish data on alien and invasive species to support invasive species management is at the core of a regional workshop at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) this week.  Invasive species are the largest threat to biodiversity in the Pacific.

This workshop is just one activity for the ‘National and Regional Alien and Invasive Species Data and Information Mobilization and Capacity Building in the Pacific’ Project, and will enable countries to publish invasive species data effectively and according to GBIF standards. 

IMG 3163 copyGiant African snails are a common invasive species found in the Pacific

The Global Biodiversity Information Facility, or GBIF, is an open-data research tool funded by various governments from around the world, which aims to provide free and open access to biodiversity data to anyone, anywhere.

In September 2017, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was successfully negotiated and signed between GBIF and SPREP. This agreement established the first GBIF Participant node in the Pacific.

“The establishment of the Pacific’s first Participant node at SPREP, enables SPREP member countries to publish their biodiversity data directly to GBIF using the tools that will now be available to them,” said Mr Stuart Chape, Acting Deputy Director General of Strategic Policy and Technical Programmes, and Director of the Islands and Ocean Ecosystems Programme.

SPREP is the Participant node for the Pacific, the coordinating team designated to establish and strengthen GBIF-related activities of its member countries and partner organisations.

Participant nodes are also considered knowledge hubs for both biodiversity data, guiding stakeholders to relevant sources of biodiversity information and data, and offering their own expertise on biodiversity and data management.

IMG 3200
This workshop marks a new era in the work of Pacific invasive species management.  While SPREP has supported work at the national level to manage data for invasive species management, this project now makes the data available on the global stage.

“Having good quality and available data is essential for determining priorities for invasive species management,” said Mr David Moverley, SPREP’s Invasive Species Adviser.

“This project provides an opportunity for not only building the capacity of the region to publish data, but also provides a safe place to store important baseline data that can be used by countries, the region and global actors to benefit the Pacific.”

In addition, the project aims to help them establish baseline checklists and promote regional use of established data standards to record quality data.

The objectives of the workshop are to help SPREP Island Members and organisations mobilise and publish alien and invasive species data to allow more informed decisions to be made. It follows on from a range of national meetings held in countries to identify the datasets.

“This week we are looking to publish the datasets that were identified in Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Wallis and Futuna.  We will be learning how to use and engage with the new data publishing infrastructure,” said Mr Bradley Myer, Coordinator of the GBIF Project.

“The very first dataset to be published on the new SPREP node was completed last week on the invasive plants of the Toloa Rainforest in Tonga and this is now available to researchers everywhere on the GBIF platform.”

The workshop will wrap up this Friday, April 20th.

This project is funded by European Union and administered by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) under the Biodiversity Information Development (BID) Programme. The Pacific Participant node is hosted at SPREP, and the SPREP member countries involved in the project are Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna. The workshop is being held from 16 – 20 April, at SPREP headquarters in Samoa.