Global Biodiversity Mapping Project
Ahimsa International recognizes a rapid acceleration of extinction rates of species
across all natural kingdoms worldwide in the face of climate change, environmental destruction and
massive habitat loss. In addition, climate change threatens agriculture and increases
the risk of disease. We therefore propose an international global environmental research endeavour
to discover, identify, study, catalog, and preserve seeds, tissues and relevant samples of Life on Earth.
The purpose is to open the frontiers of our knowledge, and to identify and maintain beneficial
biological resources which may provide relief, medicine and sustenance for humanity in an uncertain
future.In 2012 the US Midwest experienced its worst drought in 50 years, which reduced the expected
maize crop by 25 per cent. This contributed to global maize prices rising by around 40 per cent
The study will employ ship based, land based and atmospheric research efforts, organized as an
international, scientific collaboration involving the world's foremost scientific institutes,
universities, existing research programs, NGO's and both governmental and intergovernmental agencies.
The Global Biodiversity Mapping Project will draw upon a broad interdisciplinary approach amongst
biologists, botanists, taxonomists, marine biologists, zoologists, atmospheric scientists, and experts
in all relevant fields.
1. Discovery: To find and preserve life forms and
the sanctity of their natural habitats before these habitats are lost to climate change or
2. Medicine, resources and survival: To find natural
medical compounds and other useful natural chemicals that may come to the aid of humanity
in the face of resource loss, food shortages, and the potential spread of new diseases.
As such, the study will seek those organisms which may assist our resilience and survival in
the century ahead by providing new foods, new medicines, new energy sources and new hope for
3.Assessment of current status: To take stock
of what is really there, what is surviving changing climates, what is most threatened in our
global environment, and what trends indicate patterns of advancing destruction of species and
the consequences upon the total habitat.
4.Preservation of habitats: To be able to collect,
preserve and re-grow habitats using the seeds, spores, sperm, tissues and ova within currently
existing habitats, recognizing the symbiotic functions that must be preserved in order to be
able to regenerate disappearing habitats and species in our future.
Climate Change and Health:
Climate change, overfishing and toxification has caused massive devastation to marine
life worldwide. We are losing the very species that might support immune security worldwide in
the face of dangerously unpredictable emerging climates. Few realize that "climate change will
also act synergistically with other threats, such as the spread of diseases and invasive alien
species (Benning et al. 2002). More mosquitoes and other dangerous insects are expanding their
geographical areas where human resistance has not slowly developed over time, thus creating new
outbreaks of disease. Additionally, as access to clean water becomes more scarce to more people,
disease outbreaks are expected to intensify exponentially.
Plants are vital for human health. According to the Millennium Seed Bank: "About 70% of the world's
population relies on traditional plant remedies for medicine. Only one in five plant species have
been screened for use in medicine. Cures for diseases could lie in many of these unscreened species.
We can't afford to let these plants, and the potential they hold, die out."
Food in our Future?
The Millennium Seed Bank focuses as well upon plants and food supply: "Over 30,000 species
of plant are edible, but we use only a tiny fraction of these in commercial agriculture.
In the future we may well need a much greater range of species, particularly if climate change
alters growing seasons or the world's population continues to increase and we run out of prime
A 2013 Oxfam report entitled Growing Disruption, cited a March 2012, special report on extreme
weather by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which warned of unprecedented
extreme weather and climate events in the future. Many parts of the world have seen new extreme -
and ominous - weather records set in recent years, with devastating consequences for food production.
These events offer a glimpse of potential future impacts:
In the record-breaking drought in Yunnan, China, which lasted from October 2009 to May 2010,
2.1m hectares of crops and 450,000 hectares of forest and fruit trees suffered serious impacts.
The direct economic losses to agriculture exceeded RMB 20bn (around $2.9bn)
The drought in Russia in 2012 cut the grain harvest by nearly 25 per cent, 30 causing domestic
prices of grain and bread to rocket. Losses caused by this drought have been estimated at between
£294m and £937m.
Potential of Extinction Must be Averted
Global environmental disruption and demise, extinction of species is leading to a loss of
biodiversity on a level that we have never experienced in human history. Five major extinction
events have been recorded over a several billion year period, but, unlike the previous events -
which were due to natural upheavals and planetary change - the current loss of biodiversity is
mainly due to human activities and is often referred to as the sixth global extinction (Barnosky
et al. 2011; Eldredge 2001). The vast majority of biologists agree that the 6th mass extinction
is taking place, with extinction rates 100 to 1,000 times higher than normal (Chivian & Bernstein,
2008). Many biologists consider that coming decades will see the loss of large numbers of species
(Leadley et al. 2010), increasing the risk of abrupt change in landscapes and seascapes (Estes et al.
Ahimsa therefore stresses the importance of embarking upon a vast global study of all life
before we lose more of our global food supply, more plants and organisms to extinction and
climate change. Hence the absolute necessity of a large scale international effort committed
to global bio-mapping.
Ten regions globally, on land, up river, throughout the marine environment and atmospheric
regions as well.
Region 1 - Western United States/Canada and North-Eastern Pacific Ocean
Region 2 - New Zealand/ Australia and the South-Western Pacific Ocean
Region 3 - New Guinea/ Indonesia and the Western Pacific Ocean
Region 4 - Thailand and the Western Pacific Ocean
Region 5 - India and the North-Eastern Indian Ocean
Region 6 - East Africa, Madagascar and the South-Indian Ocean
Region 7 - African Congo and the South-Eastern Atlantic Ocean
Region 8 - Amazon Rainforest and South America/ South-Western Atlantic Ocean
Region 9- Polar Antarctic
Region 10 - Polar Arctic
The first step is to convene a scientific conference to which are invited the world's
foremost experts in the disciplines relevant to studying, conserving and monetizing biodiversity
in alignment with social and environmental protection. The proposed conference must rely upon the
expertise of those who have previously architected and led comparable national or regional programs,
such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), Copenhagen, Census of Marine Life,
Millennium Seed Bank, BioMap Columbia, to name just a few of the many research organizations and
programs involved with studying and cataloging our Natural Resources for posterity.
The focus of the first Global Biodiversity Mapping Summit must be to design a collaborative
global research effort which takes into account interdisciplinary advances in biodiversity sciences,
collaborative advantages, storage advancements and database building which includes leading edge
research technology and processes promoting the highest levels of accuracy, efficiency and storage
Areas of preliminary focus shall include those areas most threatened as well as upon plants
and other organisms which indicate the highest level of usefulness for humanity.
Metagenomics / environmental genomics - genomic analysis directly from environmental
samples (which have previously helped illustrate the knowledge deficit in microbial populations
which was concealed by the limitations of culture-based approaches)
The proposed bio-mapping activities shall include:
- Species discovery & description:
- More support for microbial biogeography - a mostly neglected discipline
- More support for viral ecology - newly emergent
- Co-description of mutualisms
- Tracking manmade chemicals in environments and organisms
- Species preservation and cultivation in artificial environments once discovered
- Species storage via seed banking & deep freeze of genetic material, as well as captive
breeding and culture programs
- Coordination with international seed banks
- Establishment of new seed banks, including deepwater storage systems in the event of
land disasters, permafrost loss, and other potential risks in humanity's future
- Expanded R&D environment
- International Open Access Database for universal access and referencing
- Agricultural & culinary trials of untapped edible plants, both those presently known -
and seed banked - and those awaiting discovery
- A shared ethic of non-harm, or science for and not against humanity as the basis of the
- Use of newly emergent screening procedures (such as BioMAP) for identifying antibiotic
profiles of organisms & their biochemicals
- A shared ethic towards equitable allocation of intellectual properties
- Ship-based research with on-board laboratories and genetic material storage facilities
- Land based research network - field sites & conveyance
- Atmospheric research, with manned and unmanned research balloons
- River boats with land vehicles & helicopters for exploration
- Interdisciplinary research systems. designed collaboration networks to build on the existing
interstices in environmental chemistry & biogeography.
- Identify species at most risk of decline & extinction; identify causes
- Track changes in population over time
- Track migrations, seasonal, invasive and forced
Examples of Current and Recent Efforts Worldwide
Rainforests and oceans comprise the world's greatest living pharmacy; from fungi on seaweed
as antibiotics to snails that offer morphine characteristics, Nature continues to provide us with
unimaginably rich and diverse solutions and opportunities. Of these environments, the ocean is
the least explored. Below are some examples of global efforts in biomapping and why such efforts
are taking place
1. Researching Marine Medicines
In one recent study, Georgia Institute of Technology scientists have been
cataloging and analyzing natural compounds from more than 800 species found in the waters surrounding the Fiji
Islands.A group of chemical compounds used by a species of tropical seaweed to ward off fungus
attacks may have promising antimalarial properties for humans.
Julia Kubanek and Facundo Fernandez, both associate professors at the Georgia Institute of
Technology, hold a molecular model of a potential antimalarial drug under study. (Credit: Georgia Tech
Photo: Gary Meek)
2. Rainforest medicines
In Peru, an ancient Incan toothache remedy has been discovered which may advance worldwide
The remedy, made from an Amazonian plant species from varieties of Acmella Oleracea
has proved hugely successful during the first two phases of clinical trials and may hasten the end of
current reliance on local anesthetics in dental use. Cambridge anthropologist Dr Françoise Barbara
Freedman, is leading efforts to bring this wholly natural painkiller to the global marketplace as an
organic alternative to synthetic painkillers.Biomapping is relevant to our future not only because we need
new medicines, but because our natural resources and habitats which produce such medicines
are diminishing rapidly.
3. Bio-monitoring of Atmospheric and River Pollution
An alternate reason for biomapping is to use organisms as efficient and
accurate markers of pollution. This is being done in rivers in India's Assam State, with the
study of river organisms, which show by their presence and groupings the kinds of pollution that
are prevalent. Biomapping is also being done in atmospheric science such as the study by the
International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), using plants and organisms to determine air
4. Global Ocean Sampling Expedition
The Global Ocean Sampling Expedition (GOS) is an ocean exploration genome project with the
goal of assessing the genetic diversity in marine microbial communities and to understand their
role in nature's fundamental processes. The expedition, led by Craig Venture, sampled water from
Halifax, Nova Scotia to the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean while undertaking a two year
Who: Prospective Participating Organizations
The collaborative, scientific effort will require insight and expertise from all current
leading scientific institutions engaged in biodiversity mapping, as well as new players and
funders from the public sector- the stakeholders being the whole of humanity.
To list only a few such candidates, research partners will include, but not be limited to the
- Svalbard Global Seed Vault
- Millennium Seed Bank Project
- Danish Seedbank Project
- The Burgbad Sanctuary - A conservation-themed show garden planted with rare and
endangered species, some loaned by the MSB
- Israel Gene Bank
Research Programs & Initiatives
Project BioMap - an effort to map distribution
of birds in Colombia, the world's most bird-diverse nation. The original focus on birds has since
expanded the BioMap concept across the region and across other environmental sensitive taxa groups, such as amphibians, reptiles,
mammals, and selected insect groups.
International Policy Frameworks
- Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)
- Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
- Agenda 21
- USA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- South Africa
Universities & Institutes
The efforts will be open to all universities and institutes to
participate by commissioning representatives. The following is a listing of only the
more prominent & relevant institutes.
- Biodiversity Institute @ Oxford University
- Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility @ NASA & NMSU - To consult on atmospheric testing
& balloon management
- Georgia Tech
- Microbial Observatory for Virioplankton Ecology
- National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis
- Conservation International
- World Wildlife Fund
- Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (IPÊ)
- Sandor Proteomics
- Roche Diagnostics
- Daniel Pauly
- Clinton Jenkins
- Craig Venter
- Mariana Vale - On deep-forest field naturalism
- Stuart L Pimm - Consultant on biodiversity & extinction monitoring
- NR Pace - On microbial studies
- Nigel Cleere - the European Databaser for Project BioMap.
- Niki Vermeulen - Author of "Supersizing Science"
Collections & Conservatories
University of Copenhagen collection
- Community Cyberinfrastructure for Advanced Marine Microbial Ecology Research and Analysis (CAMERA)
- Darwin Database
- Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)
List of leading universities, organizations, institutes and foremost scientists
to be invited to participate shall include:
- Darwin Center
- Conservation International - Andes Centre of Biodiversity Conservation,
from Venezuela to Bolivia. Paul Salaman again, who is Biodiversity Science Coordinator.
- King's College, Zoological Museum,
- University of Copenhagen collection
- Copenhagen Biosystematics Centre (COBICE).
- Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), Copenhagen
- AndinoNET initiative, Maracay, Venezuela
- BioNET INTERNATIONAL - ( Richard Smith -BioNET UK)
- Museo del Instituto de Zoología Agrícola Francisco Fernández Yépez-MIZA).Pepe Clavijo
- GEF PDF Sub-regional coordinators for Venezuela (Eric van Praag) and Colombia to Bolivia
(Antonio W. Salas).
Link: Convention on Biological Diversity
-Marie Curie ActionsM