Biodiversity informatics is an emerging and growing discipline that strives to develop methods to organize knowledge at the organism level extending back to the earliest dates of recorded natural history. In its simplest definition, Biodiversity informatics is about organizing and linking information across the spectrum of life using organisms as the linking thread and making use of informatics to address biological problems.
Recently, advances in information technology and an increased willingness to share primary biodiversity data are enabling unprecedented access to it. There is potential of these biodiversity informatics techniques to provide a platform for developing countries to apply state of the art bioinformatics methods to large datasets, in practical ways, in order to address pressing issues of biodiversity conservation and management
African Conservation Centre (ACC) in collaboration with the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) is collaborating in a project to establish platforms and protocols for information storage, sharing and exchange of biodiversity information. In July 2009 a 1-day workshop explored the opportunities that exist with other international partners.
Currently in Kenya there are several on-going efforts that key national players are undertaking related to biodiversity and ecological assessments, ecosystem threats, conservation planning such as the MVCA (Minimum Viable Conservation Area), EGA (Ecological Gap analysis), Species Conservation strategies climate change studies and landuse change assessments. At the same time there are emerging bioinformatics tools for building information and bringing all these efforts and knowledge bases together provides a powerful springboard to address the current and emerging threats. Kenya has an opportunity to bring all these elements together with a view of building a knowledge base which will be the basis for managing what we have.
ACC and KWS have proposed that in view of the above and the fact that next year 2010 is the International Year for Biodiversity, a national biodiversity workshop to be held in Nairobi, is appropriate. A task team from various agencies has been put together to plan for such a workshop around June/July 2010. The taskforce/steering committee held its first meeting in August at ACC offices. The workshop would draw on the results of the work underway by various institutions and would be followed by policy discussions on the implications of expanding from wildlife-centered conservation goals to biodiversity, as proposed in Kenya’s current draft wildlife bill. It is envisaged that the outcome of the workshop should be several products including national status reports, and outline of Kenya’s conservation priorities, together with various tools that have broad application.