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India expands its biodiversity database

India: In a bid to expand India’s biodiversity database, M. S. Swaminathan, eminent crop scientist and founder of the M.S. Swaminathan Foundation of India, launched the Indian Bioresources Information Network (IBIN).

IBIN builds on a 14-year-old agreement between India”s department of biotechnology (DBT) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to combine remote sensing data with ground observations to characterise biodiversity and landscapes.

“Landscape characterisation is important for any evolving landscape conservation strategy,” said P. S. Roy, a scientist with the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, Dehra Dun, under ISRO.

DBT has already compiled three databases – one on biodiversity characterisation at landscape level, which comprises a spatial database on vegetation/land use types, landscape fragmentation, disturbance regimes, species richness, biodiversity value and biological (plant) richness.

A second database is on plants, animals, marine and microbial resources, while a third is on vegetation, forest cover and other landscape elements.

The three datasets are the largest on the country”s biological resources, K. N. Ganeshiah of school of ecological sciences, University of Agriculture Sciences, Bangalore, told SciDev.Net.

IBIN would forge links with existing biodiversity databases, Ganeshiah said.

This adds to the efforts of ihe Indian Biodiversity Information System (IBIS), started in 2010 by the Foundation of Ecological Security, a non-government organisation based in Anand, Gujarat state, to expands its database on birds to mammmals. IBIS announced this at the COP-11 meeting on 14 Oct.

IBIN and IBIS add to smaller independent initiatives – such as ”Conservation India”, a portal launched in January 2012 to drive biodiversity information – which have come to play a central role in development strategies. These range from food production through health delivery to education, media and communication and are aimed at fostering a culture of conservation among citizens.

Source: SciDev