SEATTLE, Washington – October 5, 2018 – the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) has published one of the most complete and current datasets on Invasive Alien Plants (IAP) in East and Southern Africa. This extraordinary dataset is already…
Sub-Saharan Africa lacks the human and technical capacity to meet its needs for biodiversity data and knowledge. Biodiversity Informatics is not widely used nor is it valued. We will invest in creating the skills, adding the knowledge and tools, and developing the relationships that will help our grantee partners succeed.
Overall, our grantmaking focuses on partnerships, training capacity, strengthening of networks, reaching into other sectors, sharing of materials, and improved evaluation. Our three Capacity Building initiatives are:
- Initiative 1: In-Project Training – Builds in-project capacity with formal courses and experiential (on-the-job) training across our grant portfolios. As grants are developed within the Freshwater and Pollinator Programs, we survey capacity-building needs to ensure that all projects are getting the types of training needed to strengthen their internal capacity. Grantees in both Programs engage in professional networks, short technical courses, and will have a funds available to them for training. Grantees are successful at developing capacity for Biodiversity Informatics when training is targeted at professionals, MSc, or Ph.D. levels, transfer of know how from Ex-African experts is an explicit aim of the project, and when experiential (on-the-job) training is a major element of the project.
- Initiative 2: Biodiversity Informatics Training – Funds long-term professional training, African training capacity, and links training to project opportunities. We see these training courses as a way to build partnerships with those who share our interest in Biodiversity Informatics.
- Initiative 3: Regional Capacity Support and Partnerships – Includes investments in conferences and partnerships that strengthen African regional systems for Biodiversity Informatics.
In 2015, JRS refined its goals and focus to aim explicitly at building capacity for biodiversity information systems in sub-Saharan Africa. To date, JRS training has focused on data suppliers and been highly distributed among geographies, ecosystems, and species. Yet, the community of scientists active in biodiversity data collection and use is greater than the community that identifies with biodiversity informatics. There is a sizable cohort of scientists engaged in conservation whose informatics skills can be improved, and whose data should be mobilized for greater benefit.
Some of the lessons that shape our approach for 2016-2020 are:
- Capacity building of individuals is the key catalyst of broader change, and is supported by employment, professional networks, training courses, experiential learning, technology, and policy;
- Our training is not reaching audiences beyond those already working with biodiversity data;
- Experiential (on-the-job) training – often catalyzed through new hardware and software – is the major element of our past capacity building contribution;
- Formal training is critically important and in high demand. Formal training is most evidently valuable when connected to opportunities to apply training in professional settings;
- Training is most likely to create sustained capacity when targeted to working professionals and Master’s or Ph.D. levels;
- Transfer of know-how from outside Africa occurs when such transfers are explicit project goals and are also associated with transfer of authority and responsibility; and
- Training resources will only be put in the public domain when doing so is an element of project design or the motivation of the grant recipient.
Although Capacity Development occurs within the Freshwater and Pollinator Programs, we also fund projects that dedicate the entire grant to developing capacity. The most recent 2018 projects are in these areas:
- A grant to develop a Masters Program for Biodiversity Informatics professionals.
- A grant to deliver informatics training to local biodiversity data needs in three of our focal countries.
Capacity News and Stories
SEATTLE, Washington – September 05, 2018 – The JRS Biodiversity Foundation announces two new grant awards, totaling $517,300, to support the development of curricula to train future biodiversity informaticists. The investments are part of JRS’ Capacity Development program to increase…
SEATTLE, Washington – January 24, 2018– The JRS Biodiversity Foundation is pleased to announce a new $45,750 award to the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) to publish one of the most complete and current datasets on Invasive Alien Plants (IAP)…
SEATTLE, Washington – May 16, 2017 -- The JRS Biodiversity Foundation today announced a new $250,000 grant to the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) to motivate the mobilization of biodiversity data in Africa. The award will support the…
SEATTLE, Washington – January 10, 2017 – JRS Biodiversity Foundation is grateful for the opportunity to support the efforts of University of Botswana Okavango Research Institute (ORI) to protect one of the planet’s greatest wetlands. The grant of $111,600 to ORI…