The ARCOS Biodiversity Management and Information System (ARBMIS) was launched on October 25th as a new platform to facilitate biodiversity information exchange and data sharing in the African Great Lakes region, the Albertine Rift region, and the Africa Mountains region. This regional portal was launched during the closing ceremony of the Africa Regional Mountains Forum in Arusha from October 22 -24, 2014 by Hon. Lazaro Nyalandu, the Tanzanian Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism. This was the 1st Africa Regional Mountains Forum, where officials from all sectors, including government representatives, civil actors, and researchers, collaborated and framed an agenda for promoting sustainable mountain development in Africa.
JRS provided support to ARCOS 2011 and in 2013 to help develop the Albertine Rift Biodiversity Portal. JRS support focused on building the capacity of professionals in data management, developing regional data sharing standards and building relationships with regional institutions. The extension of the portal to the Great Lakes Freshwater Ecosystems and the African Mountains has been the most recent phase in its development. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (Great Lakes Portal), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (African Mountains Portal) and the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund (EIA Portal) provided vital financial support.
ARBMIS is a web-based portal that provides access to data published through the ARCOS Integrated Publishing Toolkit, which includes species checklist and occurrence data for the Albertine Rift region, as well as a media library of relevant material. It uses current bio-informatics technology and includes a library with a variety of information products, such as publications, conservation case studies, videos, and GIS maps. By building on Global Biodiversity Information Facility’s Nodes Portal Toolkit, it ensures conformity with international data standards and also links to GIS data and species photos when possible.
The new portal addresses the problem of many decision makers in Africa who lack not only information, but also the mechanisms to access, interpret, analyze, use, and present existing information. The ARCOS Biodiversity Monitoring System was first conceived in 2007 as a collaborative effort to develop a regional biodiversity monitoring framework that generates and provides information to be used by all stakeholders for sustainable development and biodiversity conservation in the Albertine Rift region.