Informatics (i.e. IT) is an area I’ve been intensely involved in over the past 5 days. Using innovative and simply plain-sailing ways of collecting, storing, managing, prioritising and communicating data. But not just any old data: data which could provide scientists and policy makers with the information they need to make important decisions to reduce the loss of biodiversity and support ecosystem services. Biodiversity informaticians are committed to understanding how ecosystems, species, genomes are affected by climate change, infrastructure projects and any other change and how biodiversity can impact on our resilience to deal with that change. They are an interesting (and delightfully brainy, if sometimes scatty) group of academics, researchers, museum managers and people close to policy who understand better than anyone else how to measure whether we’re getting closer to any of our global efforts to reduce environmental and biodiversity loss.
And they want people to listen to them!
The GBIC 2012 was a milestone conference to get the community together and come to a common understanding of the next steps for this fascinating discipline. 2 colleagues, Niels Ferdinand and Bart Slob, supported me in facilitating the conference and providing a (somewhat bossy) structure, orientation and tempo to the dialogue. What an exciting and exhausting task – the field is broad, the thinking deep and the responsibility for working with people intent on “saving the world” daunting – as always. It is also a field populated by caring people and there was lots of listening and collaborating and letting go during the conference and workshops.
Twitter brought the conference way beyond the confines of the Copenhagen location – great to see how much interest was generated and voiced from all over the globe.
There should be a good Global Biodiversity Informatics Outlook on the table for the CBD’s COP11 in Hyderabad this October. Let’s hope the bridges will continue to be raised to get the important questions scientists and policy makers have on biodiversity answered using the most innovative informatics capabilities.
Thanks to the excellent, sometimes mind-boggling and exceedingly friendly group of co-chairs and participants!