Strategies for Open and Permanent Access to Scientific Information in Latin America: Focus on Health and Environmental Information for Sustainable Development

PPBio - Program for Planned Biodiversity Studies
Célio Magalhães, (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia)

The Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT), understanding that (1) studies of biodiversity need to be integrated and conducted over large areas; and (2) scientific information on biodiversity is important for education, environmental modelling and to support public policies, established in 2004 the Program for Planned Biodiversity Studies (PPBio). The program was conceived in accordance with the principles of the Convention of Biological Diversity and the directives of Brazil's National Biodiversity Policy. PPBio is part of the federal government's Multi-year Plan (PPA) and aims to create a strategic institutional plan to efficiently expand and manage biodiversity knowledge. It has a national scope, but in the first two stages the Amazon Region and the Semi-Arid Region were prioritized. Its Specific objectives are: (i) to support implementation and maintenance of Biota inventory networks; (ii) to support maintenance, expansion and digitization of national biological collections; (iii) to support research and development on biodiversity thematic fields; and (iv) to develop strategic actions for biodiversity research policies. The program´s main activities includes biological surveys, biological collections, biodiversity commercial applications, strengthening regional centers, and capacity building of human resources.

The implementation of PPBio emphasized a decentralized management model in which Executing Units are charged with carrying out PPBio's executive plans. Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia and Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi are the executing units for PPBio Amazônia and Universidade Federal de Feira de Santana is the executing unit for PPBio Semi-Arid. Their goal is to articulate and improve cooperation between institutions involved in biodiversity studies in their respective areas of influence.

Because of the multiplicity of potential indicators and the great diversity of users, PPBio considers that integrated surveys are orders of magnitude more efficient than isolated studies and that, to be efficient, a survey/monitoring system must have the following characteristics: (i) be standardized; (ii) permit integrated surveys for all taxa; (iii) be large enough for monitoring all elements of the biodiversity and ecosystem processes; (iv) be modular, to permit comparisons with less intensive samples taken over very large areas; (v) be compatible with existing iniciatives; (vi) be implementable with existing manpower; (vii) make the data available quickly in a usable form to managers and other stakeholders. To attend to this requisites, the standard PPBio plots are only 25 km2. There are 6 1-km trails in the N-S direction and 6 1-km trails in the E-W direction. Smaller modules can be used to sample landscape features or areas suffering impacts.

PPBio´s metadata must be made available imediately, sometimes before the data are collected, so that other researchers and managers know what is being collected, when, and where. They define the sampling protocols. Concerning Information acess, PPBio works on the principle that data collected on public lands, or by government employees, or using infrastructure provided by government funding are public property and must be made available in a timely fashion to stakeholders who have need of them. Data availability in the PPBio is governed by an explicit Data Policy Document. It basically says that data must be put into a database within a few months of collection, but are not made public for a period of two years without the collectors permission. PPBio data are public and freely available on the web.

The Biological Collection component has as specific objectives: to support the maintenance and improvement of the biological collections; to support the training of specialists in systematics, taxonomy, curation, and information science applied to biodiversity; to support the organization, digitalization, management, and dissemination of information associated with biological collections through information technologies applied to biodiversity; and to support the integration of collection databases in Amazonian and extra-Amazonian biodiversity information facilities. The general work lines of this component includes information management (data and metadata bases; Web pages); qualification of taxonomic information, data, and human resources; computerization of collections by digitization, online publication, and integration of databases to biodiversity information systems; as well as improvement of infra-structure.

One of the main challanges of PPBio is to promote building capacity in Regional Research Units by supporting training courses (technician, undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate levels) in biological surveys, collection management, and others aspects of biodiversity studies. The next step is to expand the program to the Atlantic Forest Region.

  • The Global Alliance for Enhancing Access to and Application of Scientific Data in Developing Countries, of the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development, UN G@ID
  • U.S. National Committee for CODATA
  • Brazilian National Committee for CODATA.
  • CODATA Task Group on Preservation of and Access to Scientific and Technical Data in Developing Countries