Biodiversity Goes Online

Brazil’s biodiversity is now contributing significantly to the archives of the World Heritage Library, an online project covering museums, botanical institutes and research institutions in covering South Africa, Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, the US, and Europe.

Together they have digitalized more than 45 million pages from over 159,000 publications held by the consortium’s member libraries.

The project was launched in 2006 in the United States, but has grown steadily since then. The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) receives online data from member countries of the Global BHL Network (gBHL). Brazil began its participation in 2010 through the BHL-SciELO Network.

SciELO currently offers 45 indexed open-access journals on biodiversity, published in six Latin American countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico. The virtual library also holds a biodiversity legislation collection, to be updated by the end of 2015. Another new feature of SciELO is a biodiversity thesaurus in Portuguese, English, and Spanish.


Delegates from the gBHL network met at São Paulo’s Butantan Institute in early May 2015 to discuss progress, especially the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment’s Biodiversity & Forestry Department contribution to digitize collections of essential biodiversity literature held by Brazilian libraries.

In addition to the participation of FAPESP (São Paulo research Foundation) and its signature BIOTA programme, online participation in Brazil also comes from: The Brazilian Zoology Society (SBZ), and the information systems and libraries of the Zoobotanical Foundation (FZB), the National Library Foundation (FBN), the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), the Butantan Institute (IB), the São Paulo State Botanical Institute (IBOT), the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden Research Institute (JBRJ), the National Museum, the Emilio Goeldi Museum of Pará (MPEG), the University of São Paulo’s Zoology Museum (MZ-USP), and the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR).

In the past three years, 869 documents from four collections have been digitized: 232 from MZ- USP, 176 from JBRJ, 285 from IB, and 176 from MPEG. Indexing is ongoing. In addition, 25% of Brazil’s current scientific production relating to biodiversity is published by Brazilian journals, most of which are indexed by SciELO.

According to Abel Packer, head of the SciELO programme, The Brazilian network aims to have more than 2,000 relevant documents on biodiversity digitized by the end of 2016. “We reckon between 3,500 and 4,000 documents would have to be digitized in order to assure exhaustive coverage of the relevant biodiversity literature that is held in physical form by Brazilian research institutions,” he said.

p11_1000_jpgThe São Paulo conference heard that on a wider canvas, the BHL-SciELO Network is linked to FAPESP’s flagship BIOTA programme. The BIOTA programme’s biodiversity database, known as SinBIOTA, contains all of the available taxonomic information on the species that have been collected in the biomes of São Paulo State, including details of where, how, in what conditions, and by whom they were collected. SinBIOTA is part of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), with which BHL also plans to integrate.

You can read a full article on this topic by Brazilian journalist Elton Alisson  by clicking here.


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