im 22 years old, female doing my honns in ecological informatics at csir(pretoria)

Location: pretoria, gauteng, South Africa

i completed my Bsc (microbiology physiology) degree in 2005 at University of Limpopo, now im doing my honns in ecological informatics at university of the western cape.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Fourth Annual GBIF Science Symposium Report by Lethabo

The fourth annual GBIF science symposium conference was held at the Cape Town BMW Pavilion in South Africa from 5-6 April 2006. The role of the GBIF-(Global Biodiversity Information Facility) is conservation and monitoring of biodiversity change. There were different speakers at the conference each and every speaker was talking about different topics concerning biodiversity.

Biodiversity is the combination of plants, animals, genes, etc. biodiversity is not static but it is constantly changing and there are long term effects and short term effects on biodiversity. The long term effects are those that occur naturally for example drought and fire and short term are anthropogenic (man-made) for example clearing of vegetation, overgrazing and development. Dr Simon Mduma said that conservation outside protected areas must be able to distinguish between natural change and direct human-induced change.

The levels of carbon dioxide are rising which are affecting climate to change. Dr Guy Midgley said that if we keep on burning fossil fuels temperatures will rise in the coming years and this will cause climate change which will make it difficult to maintain biodiversity. Farmers, researchers and conservation practitioners should work together when collecting data and they should also share the information around biodiversity conservation. The researchers should build trust in the local people when undertaking research (field wok) in their area and also try to involve them by giving them feedback.

The policy markers and researchers do not use the same language; the researchers use a scientific language for example when saying man-made effects the researchers say anthropologenic. So the researchers should use the language that the policy markers use so that when they are making the decisions they should know what they are talking about. South Africa is the 3rd country in the world which is rich in biodiversity but the problem is that South Africa lacks researchers. GEOSS- Global Earth Observation System System they are trying to make data available on biodiversity on the GBIF site (web) in order to encourage people to be interested in biodiversity and also by making data available and free.

I liked what Ed February said when he said that people are aware of the problems that we are facing in biodiversity but they are not willing to go out in to the field and do research. He gave an example about the Kruger National Park when he said that all the trees at the park have been broken down and researchers just assume that it is because of the elephants while they are not sure. Even why the elephant population is increasing and also why are the elephants not staying at one place. He even said that even though we are busy trying to conserve biodiversity we are still losing biodiversity.

In conclusion what I have learnt is that if we do not have our heart in what we are doing we will not get to where we want to go especially in trying to conserve the biodiversity. Biodiversity in South Africa is too broad and there are a lot of things that people do not know a thing about. We should try to educate people about diversity and also try to encourage the youngsters to be interested in doing research in biodiversity. Funds should be available maybe that is the reason why people do not go to the field when they are doing their research.


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