The Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Biodiversity Information Development (ASF-BID) project has recorded good progress within the first eight months of implementation.
Most of the preparatory deliverables such as facility development, staff capacity enhancement and data mobilization have been achieved satisfactorily. A project start up meeting was conducted at the National Museums of Kenya (NMK), where the heads from main project partners: A Rocha Kenya (ARK), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) and ASF Guides Association (ASFGA) attended. Resulting from this forum, partners were able to unpack the project, share key expected contributions from each partner thus preparing the ground for the project to kick off.
Staff enhancement and training
Key project team members including the Project Coordinator and four data clerks were recruited to support project implementation.We enhanced IT facilities within partner institutions where six new computers/ laptops and five high speed wireless modems were purchased to facilitate project activities. A staff capacity enhancement workshop was conducted to introduce the project and train data clerks and other staff from partner institutions on biodiversity data management best practices and data digitisation using the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) templates. The workshop was opened up for other scientists and museum staff to attend in order to raise awareness about GBIF, its aims and how it functions. Participants were able to understand the ASF-BID project and GBIF, and how to digitise, clean and geo-reference data to comply with GBIF standards. Follow up visits and trainings have been conducted at NMK for data clerks alone to assess progress, address challenges and share lessons emanating from project implementation. A meeting was organized for ASFGA and KWS at the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Station to inform and update them on the project progress and to discuss their key responsibilities as per the project. Four project partners including ARK, KWS and the two sections of NMK successfully conducted the data holder capacity self-assessment.
Data mobilisation and digitization
In the second period of the project, a key focus has been mobilisation of data – involving data mining and organising together with the actual digitisation. One dataset (of the bats of Arabuko-Sokoke) has been successfully published through the GBIF database while five more datasets are waiting for the metadata to be complete before publishing. We have applied to GBIF for A Rocha Kenya to be accepted as a publisher so that we can publish directly to the database and are awaiting a response.The following are approximate totals of records digitised and cleaned to date that are being prepared for checking to be published on GBIF database: c. 9,000 bird records including ringing data, specimen, observation and checklist data, 11,800 entomology records, 2,200 tree records,120 reptile records and 50 mammal records. The published dataset of bats consists of 5,413 records.
Forest management were presented with an overview of the BID project and an introduction to GBIF at a research and monitoring day workshop held at the A Rocha Kenya centre and the project was similarly presented with an update of progress at the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Management Team meeting in May and also at the Research & Monitoring Working Group meeting for ASF. Furthermore, one-on-one meetings were had with KWS warden for ASF, the Assistant Director for Research (KWS headquarters), Head of Species Monitoring (KWS), Head of the Biodiversity Database (KWS), KFS Eco-system Conservator, the KFS Forester and the Chairman of the ASFMT (from NMK, coast) about the project. The Project Coordinator attended the Decision-making for biodiversity data training workshop in Cape Town in April.