Working for birds in Africa

Data management for successful biodiversity monitoring in Africa

Date posted: 
Thursday, July 3, 2008

A recent workshop in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, outlined how data management, analysis and presentation underpins effective conservation action and advocacy. This was the second workshop of an EC Funded project which is 'instituting effective monitoring of biodiversity in Protected Areas (IBAs) as a contribution to reducing the rate of biodiversity loss in Africa'. At practical level, people need to know how many sites are getting better and how many sites are getting worse’ said Dr Julius Arinaitwe of the BirdLife Africa Partnership Secretariat.

The workshop equipped project Partners in Africa with the requisite skills for handling data. It also drew attention to data-barriers faced in the conservation community and discussed ways to address these challenges. While some barriers are technical in nature, many are institutional, legal and cultural in origin. The workshop focused on the technical aspects of data collection, management, analysis and presentation. It covered tabular and GIS data, along with the more political aspects of data distribution both to partners in a project and to a wider audience.

Ian Fisher, the Head of International Information Management at BirdLife International / RSPB had wise words to share with members of the BirdLife Partnership. ‘If you don’t understand what is happening in the data, you could only be telling part of the story - be creative about how you use your data and the graphs associated with them, but be careful that you are correctly representing what is happening to your environments.

It is anticipated that the recipients of the Regional level training will produce national biodiversity training manuals on data management and transfer the knowledge gained at national level.

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