Urgent action is needed to combat the impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss, and secure a sustainable future for the planet. Policymakers, national governments, and intergovernmental organizations rely heavily on data-driven research to inform the key environmental indicators and policies required to meet this moment of crisis. The need for the global biodiversity community and its disparate data silos to build a unified biodiversity knowledge graph rich in human and machine-curated interlinkages has never been greater. As a prominent member of the global biodiversity informatics community, the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) has a central role to play. BHL data:
improves scientific understanding of ecological change, deeper into time, at both global and hyper-local scales;
assists decision-makers in shaping global environmental policy informed by the historical record and;
bridges knowledge gaps and facilitates information exchange regarding our planet’s history.
By liberating over 500 years of data and making it open and Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable , BHL fosters universal bioliteracy and meets global climate challenges. In response to urgent calls from the scientific community to de-silo and connect disparate climate- and biodiversity- related datasets, BHL is investigating Wikimedia’s core projects, in particular, Wikidata and its underlying architecture Wikibase. Wikidata has emerged as a global information broker and collaboratively edited data store that provides a unified technical infrastructure well-positioned to support biodiversity and climate science, environmental policy, and global efforts to monitor the health of our planet.
BHL’s evolution from a digital library to a big data repository requires normalizing, standardizing, and enriching data at a scale that equates to lifetimes of manual labor. To meaningfully contribute to the vital work of global biodiversity data infrastructure, BHL must embrace computational approaches that will hasten the semantic enrichment and rapid dissemination of data in its corpus. BHL must pursue new capacity-building partnerships and ensure its resources match its mission, in order to support the scientists and policymakers working towards life on a sustainable planet.
Dearborn, J. (2023). Unifying Biodiversity Knowledge to Support Life on a Sustainable Planet. Biodiversity Heritage Library. https://doi.org/10.21428/bcf8962c.699434fb