National Biodiversity Institute (INBio) of Costa Rica

Benin National Biodiversity Information System

Project Details

Grant Amount: $182,319
Contact: Maria Mora
Contact Email: mmora 'atsign'
Funding Dates: 7/1/11-12/31/13
Project Links:


This project, awarded to INBio in 2011, successfully provided training, technical support, advocacy, and technology to their Beninese partner, the Faculté des Sciences Agronomiques de l’Université d’Abomey-Calavi (UAC) and a partnership that launched significant digitization efforts in Benin. JRS followed the award with a direct grant to UAC in 2014, Implementation of the National Biodiversity Information System (NBIS) of Benin.


Benin, as in many developing countries, has an increasing need to integrate and complement the available biodiversity information necessary to support decision-making on the country’s biodiversity management. With the implementation of this project, Benin will undertake a key step towards the digitization, standardization, integration, and popularization of its biodiversity information.

The technology needed to establish the National Biodiversity Information System of Benin will be implemented using free standards, protocols, and software tools developed by international initiatives like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility – GBIF (for instance the Node Portal Toolkit – NPT).  Similarly, the experience and software developed by means of this project will benefit other developing countries.

Key Objectives and Activities

This project aims at enhancing Benin’s national capacity in Biodiversity Informatics through the establishment of a national biodiversity information system (NBIS), which will offer free and open access to integrated biodiversity information as part of the country efforts towards the conservation and sustainable use of its biological resources.

The Global Biodiversity Information Facility of Benin (GBIF Benin), led by Dr. Jean Ganglo, will manage the implemented NBIS and its personnel will be trained as trainers to initiate replication and expansion of the NBIS. As a key output of this project, the herbarium data managed by the Faculty of Sciences and Techniques (University Abomey Calavi) will be digitized and made available through GBIF and the NBIS.

Planned Outputs

  • A functional biodiversity information system for Benin accessible through Internet.
  • Information about species and specimens in digital format.
  • Improved Internet access and renewed equipment for the Faculty of Agronomy of the University of Abomey Calavi – FSA/UAC.
  • Well-trained human capacity for biodiversity information management that will enable the Benin GBIF Node to initiate the project expansion.
  • Representatives from the FSA/UAC community trained to use the data portal.
  • A technological package available to other institutions and countries.

Planned Outcomes

The long-term vision of this project has the following three strategic pillars:

  • Biodiversity information freely and openly shared: The long-term goal is to achieve the digitization, cleaning, and integration of most Beninese biodiversity information available into the national biodiversity data portal, which gives users free and open access to it.  Improving access to data, information, and knowledge will contribute to the advancement of scientific research that will let decision makers and the general public to know more about the biodiversity present in the country and what is happening to it.
  • Well-trained human capacity: build capacity at the national level and to maintain and expand the amount of resources (databases) integrated into the data portal by means of promoting the benefits of generating and sharing biodiversity information.
  • Generate new information products from the available data:  continue empowering the national community to generate new information products based on the available data and combining information form other sources, for instance data about disasters, energy, climate, water, agriculture, and health, among others.  These new possibilities for combining multiple information sources will allow the country to answer more complex question related with sustainable development and biodiversity conservation.

Last Updated: February 28th, 2017

Results to Date

  • A functional national biodiversity information system for Benin, which integrates more than 84,825 occurrence records extracted from the GBIF repository, accessible through Internet (
  • Information about species and specimens, which was not in digital form in Benin, was digitized: 2,799 species records, more than 24,768 specimen records, and more than 2000 images.
  • Well-trained human capacity for biodiversity information management that will enable the Benin GBIF Node to initiate the project expansion.
  • Representatives from the FSA/UAC community trained in Biodiversity Informatics (three workshops were organized).
  • A technological package available to other institutions and countries.

Lessons Learned

  • The organization for execution is a very important phase in the project cycle and should be taken into account, assigning time and resources to it, so that it becomes a determining factor for the successful implementation of projects.
  • Make a thorough analysis of the initial situation, focusing on existing mutual knowledge and actual gaps.  Project planning should realistically consider the strengths and weaknesses of the participants in the execution.
  • There is not “one fits all” technological solution. Before starting the project is important to document the needs of different users and system administrators. The solution develops for Benin is based on NPT Startup and provides a lightweight data portal in comparison to others such as the GBIF data portal, the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) Data portal, among others.
  • The main challenge of a NBIS is to convince potential data publishers that maintaining quality data and sharing them in initiatives such as the NBIS, GBIF, and others will benefit conservation of biodiversity and sustainable development. This could be done gradually and with much effort, especially showing products that benefit the community that shares its data and the country.

Primary Software Platforms

The main software platform is the Node Portal Toolkit (NPT).  NPT is a tool being developed by the GBIF Nodes Community based on Drupal and Scratchpad. NPT is and open source development envisioned as a suite of informatics tools designed to help GBIF Participants to deploy, maintain, and extend biodiversity data portals.

The extended version of NPT, as a result of this project, has many features, for instance:

  • Taxonomy Tree Management: Based on Scratchpads efforts, the user can navigate through a taxonomic tree representing the species indexed in NPT database.
  • Specimens: When available, each taxon will show a list of all the specimens associated to it. Specimens could be extracted from GBIF’s index.
  • Species Page: When available, each taxon will offer a species page view that would list any Plinian Core elements related to the taxon.
  • Multimedia:  By reusing Scratchpads efforts, NPT is able to display Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) images associated with each taxon and local stored images.
  • Map: Based on Google Maps, there is a possibility to visualize all specimens plotted into a map, by clickable markers that will show individual information for each specimen.
  • NPT interface is available in English and French.
  • Search: Easy to search through the taxonomy with an easy autocomplete feature.
  • Google Analytics: There are readily available statistics to measure activity from visitors to the portal.
  • Additionally, as part of Drupal standard functionality the system includes a very flexible communication portal.

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