Experts from the Biodiversity Information Facility nodes from Taiwan and Norway, the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), and various ASEAN Member States convened to capture the wildlife of Mount Makiling Forest Reserve (MMFR), the 33rd ASEAN Heritage Park– on film, that is.

ACB, in partnership with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), organized an Orientation Workshop on Mobilizing Biodiversity Data from ASEAN Protected Areas which was held on 4 – 8 July 2016 in the SAS Hall of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research (SEARCA), Los Baños, Laguna.

The workshop, which aimed to hone the capabilities of managers and staff of ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHPs) to serve as partners in biodiversity information management, was led by Dr. Dag Endresen, Node Manager for GBIF Norway; Dr. Yu-Huang Wang, Node Manager for Taiwan Biodiversity Information Facility (TaiBIF); Dr. Po-Jen Chiang and Mr. Guan-Shuo Mai, both from TaiBIF; Dr. Sheila V. Vergara, Director of the ACB Biodiversity Information Management (BIM) unit; and ACB-BIM officers and staff.

One of the highlights of the workshop is the hands on training on the use of camera traps in capturing species in the MMFR through videos and photographs. The team also demonstrated how a recording device that can capture the amplified sounds of wildlife works.

“The effective and efficient management of biodiversity information is a crucial step towards better planning, development, and implementation of conservation programmes and initiatives,” said ACB Executive Director Roberto V. Oliva. “It is always a must to know what you still have, and what needs to be saved to come up with science-based and informed decisions,” he added.

To substantiate the demos and hands-on, lectures on species data collection, processing, harvesting, encoding, mapping and analysis were conducted. Dr. Yu-Huang and Dr. Po-Jen familiarized the participants on various software tools needed for proper storage and classification of images obtained from camera traps, which were installed and eventually retrieved from the field. Dr. Endresen introduced the Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT), a tool developed by GBIF to organize and publish species datasets. ACB_BIM provided an orientation on the use of the species encoding interface to facilitate encoding species data into a globally accepted format such as the Darwin Core (DwC) and mapping species information through online mapping tools. The importance of encoding species data into standard structures like the DwC was stressed during the workshop. This will provide ease in data analysis and sharing among the ASEAN Member States, which could result to effective biodiversity conservation efforts in the Region,” said Dr. Sheila Vergara.

At the end of the workshop, the participants presented the current biodiversity information management setups in their respective countries and indicated their need for further training, additional equipment, additional staff, and funds to enhance their existing biodiversity information management systems.