Compliant with the requirement of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and under the auspices of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), GBIF was officially launched in March 2001 to fulfill the need to make primary data about the Earth's biological diversity freely available to anyone over the Internet. In the same year, Taiwan’s National Science Council (NSC) was invited to represent Taiwan and formally signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to join GBIF as an Associate Participant. Since the scientific name of a species is the most important keyword in linking biological information; the first task of integrating Taiwan’s biodiversity data is to establish an accurate, authoritative, and complete species checklist of valid species in Taiwan. The database of TaiBNET was thus created in 2002. In 2006 NSC signed another 5-year collaboration MOU with GBIF. Director Ming-Liang Kuo of NSC renewed the MOU (2012-2016) at the end of 2011.
Paragraph 3.3(c) of the MOU states that each Participant signing the MOU should seek to form a Participant Node or Nodes, accessible via GBIF, that will organize and/or provide access to biodiversity data, or to data and metadata standards, software tools or other services to enhance the GBIF network. In 2004, GBIF’s Taiwan node and portal, TaiBIF, was established with the aim to promote the collection and integration of domestic biodiversity information and to assist various databases in sharing and exchanging data internationally. TaiBIF so far has integrated specimen information from most museums and herbaria as well as ecological survey data from government agencies and organizations. A total of 1.59 million digital specimen and observational records from 28 datasets are now accessible through the TaiBIF website (http://taibif.org.tw/?locale=en&tid=485).
In order to more effectively and broadly employ the integration framework and advancement of global biodiversity information, Taiwan also (1) cooperates with COL to continue maintaining and operating Taiwan's Catalogue of Life, i.e., the database and website of TaiCOL (renamed from TaiBNET, http://col.taibif.tw), which contains a checklist of 54,000 native species; (2) cooperates with CBOL and iBOL to continue maintaining and operating Taiwan Barcode of Life (TaiBOL, http://bol.taibif.tw), which has 10,457 tissue samples from 2,981 species and 1,255 DNA sequences from 844 species; (3) cooperates with EOL to build Taiwan's Encyclopedia of Life (TaiEOL, http://eol.taibif.tw), which will have information in Chinese on 16,000 species by the end of 2013. In addition to being the portal of the above three databases, TaiBIF incorporates Biota Taiwanica (http://biota.taibif.tw/) with English descriptions on 2,716 species and 4,973 images.
The National Science Council (now known as Ministry of Science and Technology) and Council of Agriculture over the years have been the main funding agencies to support domestic taxonomists in various fields in their researches. With the help of the TaiBIF project, the data accumulated can be fully digitized, entered into databases, and posted online. When research data are shared and exchanged both domestically and internationally, and their use is actively promoted, their value can then be fully realized. Looking ahead, TaiBIF will continue to promote biodiversity research and related databases and encourage the exchange of biodiversity information to fulfill its objective as the portal to the biodiversity information of Taiwan.
(Last modified in March 2014)