Author: Karine Rodrigues, RNP | Picture credit: José Sabino/SiBBr
Brazil is internationally known as the country of carnival and soccer but is actually one of the main hosts of biodiversity.
The tropical territory of continental proportions holds the highest genetic variability in the world. It is estimated that 20% of the global diversity is located in the South American country. About 48,000 known species of fungi and plants, and 115,000 known species of animals compose the Brazilian flora and fauna.
Such biodiversity is explained by the high ecological and climatic variety with different regional characteristics. Totally, there are six types of climates and six different terrestrial biomes. For example, it is possible to observe the contrast between the equatorial rainy climate of the North, and the semi-arid climate of the North-East, with low rainfall indexes.
And of course, the forest is a natural asset: the largest tropical rain forest in the world, the Amazon Rainforest; the largest wetland, Pantanal, and the tropical Atlantic Forest are in Brazil. Now, consider the combination of all that natural wealth with science and technology. The last elements of this equation are intrinsic to Rede Nacional de Ensino e Pesquisa (RNP) [National Education and Research Network], which has been driving innovation, research and education in Brazil for more than 30 years. The combination of these components, in order to offer data and information to support public policies, structured two of the many solutions developed by RNP, with support and coordination by the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications (MCTIC).
One of the ongoing initiatives is the Brazilian Biodiversity Information System (SiBBr). It is the first national technological infrastructure that integrates and provides scientific information on the variety of species and ecosystems coming from different sources in Brazil and abroad. SiBBr provides information on the 165 thousand known species, with more than 15.6 million records. On the online platform the accessed data can guide governmental decisions related to sustainability and promote knowledge about biodiversity.
In addition to RNP and MCTIC, the system has been supported by UN Environment Program (UNEP) and the Global Environment Fund (GEF) based on the Atlas of Living Australia Platform (ALA). Developed in open code, the platform uses international standards, which facilitate data sharing and can be adapted and evolved according to the needs of each country. Abroad, SiBBr is the Brazilian hub in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), an initiative that congregates data on biodiversity from more than 60 countries.
In addition to biodiversity, Brazil is rich in climatic variety and centralises the observed and the planned impact of climate changes in the country on the ImpactaClima platform. It integrates information that enables progress of the analysis on the observed and the planned impact of climate changes on the national territory. This project is also carried out by RNP and MTIC and the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE) [National Spatial Research Institute] is also involved.
With the proposal, decision-makers can evaluate the main variables and the cause-effect relations in the climate change context and propose adaptation measures. Mayors and governors will be more able to contribute to the protection of biodiversity, foresee crises and natural disasters – such as drought, landslides, floods or desertification – in addition to developing more correct and conscious environmental, economic and social public policies.
The Solution Management Deputy Director of RNP, Antônio Carlos Nunes, who followed the project management, comments, “Both SiBBr and ImpactaClima enable fundamental information on biodiversity and climate, respectively, making it possible for researchers, public administrators and society as a whole to access to rich data on preservation and climate, with potential breakdown for the creation, analysis and structuring of public policies”. The projects contribute to sustainability and environmental preservation of the country’s natural wealth which is not only a Brazilian asset, but a global one too.