WCMC Handbooks on Biodiversity Information Management

2310-2306 (online)
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This series supports those making decisions on the conservation and sustainable use of living resources. The handbooks are training materials designed to build information-management capacity, improve decision-making and assist countries in meeting their obligations under Agenda 21 and the Convention on Biological Diversity. Although written to address the specific need for improved management of biodiversity-related information at the national level, the underlying principles apply to environmental information in general, and to decision-making at all levels. The issues and concepts presented may also be applied in the context of specific sectors, such as forestry, agriculture and wildlife management.

Information Networks, Volume 4

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Commonwealth Secretariat
01 Jan 1998
9781848596399 (PDF)
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  • Introduction

    Many groups possess knowledge of a cultural, economic or scientific nature which could be of great value to the conservation and sustainable use of living resources. This may have been built up over many years or generations and represents a significant investment in terms of time, money and intellectual effort. The intellectual property resulting from this investment is often seen as an important asset, to be guarded from outsiders and made available only in exchange for other assets, for example money.

  • Basic Principles

    Information networks, which are simply assemblages of individuals, groups and organisations with common information goals, overcome barriers to data access by focusing on the need for cooperation. They range in size from loose associations of individuals based upon personal contacts and historic ties, to actively managed consortia of government agencies, NGOs, scientists and private organisations, all with shared information goals. The aim is to build trust and confidence between the network's partners, who may include scientists, policy-makers and resource managers, leading to improved uptake of scientific information in policy and planning.

  • Network Design

    There are two basic forms of information network. The first uses a centralised architecture (see Figure 1) where there is a single organisational unit at the centre of the network. Individual partners communicate and cooperate with that unit, for example by providing specific data and advice, but not directly with other partners.

  • Partner Roles and Responsibilities

    In the current context, the main purpose of an information network is to support the development of good policies, plans and decisions on the conservation and sustainable use of living resources (see Volume 1). To achieve this purpose effectively, partners need to feel comfortable contributing to the smooth running of the network, and know how their contributions are leading to its overall goals. To ensure that this occurs, the roles and responsibilities of the network's partners need to be identified, fully defined and, most importantly, agreed.

  • Achieving Common Objectives

    A tangible measure of network success is the number and quality of information products delivered to its users. The question is: how can partners be organised to deliver these products when each custodian has its own objectives, and each user its own agenda? Clearly, the function of the hub is to identify common information objectives and enable partners to achieve them.

  • Case Studies

    BCIS is an evolving framework within which the Members' networks—thousands of conservation experts and organisations around the world—will work together toward a common goal: to support environmentally sound decision-making and action by facilitating access to biodiversity data and information. A consortium of 11 non-governmental conservation organisations and programmes BCIS Members collectively represent a comprehensive resource for global biodiversity conservation information.

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