Effective response to the world’s environmental challenges starts with knowing what we already know about life on Earth. Public institutions like botanic gardens and natural history museums have collected and preserved large amounts of biodiversity data and information over the past two centuries that could become the source material for new, innovative cross-border research, applications and services. This wealth of data and information in this scientific area is now dispersed and in many cases not free and open for further re-use.
The Bouchout Declaration on Open Biodiversity Knowledge Management, launched on the 12th of June 2014 by the FP7 EU-funded project pro-iBiosphere, seeks to unlock the legacy of biodiversity knowledge, make digital data about biodiversity openly available and put it to work for the benefit of all. It calls for legal and technical reforms to grant all users the right and ability to freely access, copy, distribute, and re-purpose published biodiversity content, accompanied by the respectful attribution of the content source as demanded by scholarly tradition.
Only three weeks after the launch of the Declaration it has been endorsed by more than 70 institutions and 140 individuals from 40 countries around the Globe. Among the signatories are the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, the Brazilian Virtual Herbarium and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. They encourage an overarching approach to Open Biodiversity Knowledge Management based on 10 fundamental principles to be found in the text of the Declaration and thus demonstrate their commitment to Open Digital Science.