The Centre for Biodiversity and Natural Products

Centre for Biodiversity and Natural Products (CBNP) is a research establishment within the University Papua New Guinea (UPNG) devoted to:

  1. Natural history collections curation and management
  2. Capacity building and training for collections managers
  3. Strengthening research capacity at the institutional level
  4. Teaching and mentoring students at all levels (undergraduate to postgraduate)
  5. Biological research and conservation
    Providing technical expertise, training and advice on biodiversity and taxonomy to interested individuals and institutions.

The CBNP is a member of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) that recently received funding to make available online the resources held by its collections.

The centre comprises four taxonomically important collections:

  • Herbarium (23, 933 plant specimens),
  • Entomology (14, 000 insect specimens),
  • Zoology (Mammals, Amphibians and Reptiles (13, 900 specimens), and the
  • PNG National Fish Collection (c. 10, 000 specimens),majority of which have significant historic value.

Currently, our collections are scattered in different databases with no standard format. We are employing traditional database systems such as record cards or catalogue systems, and these databases are stored digitally in MS access or excel spreadsheets.

With the current GBIF funding, the CBNP aims to:

1) train collection managers on data entry, data cleaning and standardisation and data publishing,
2) organise and clean existing database held in different collections in the centre,
3) publish the data on the GBIF platform

The CBNP had its first data mobilisation and digitisation training to the collection managers and other interested members from both government and non-government organisations.

The training entitled ‘Planning for natural history collections restoration project: Building Institutional Capacity for Data Mobilisation and Digitisation of Biological Collections at the University of Papua New Guinea’, was conducted from 14 – 18 February 2022.

The training has equipped the collection managers with tools and skills they require in their daily curational and management of data of historical significance (from transcription to publishing). The cleaning of existing database is currently progressing well, and we hope to publish our first data at the end of May 2022.

The data mobilisation and digitisation project is a collaborative effort between two national institutions – the UPNG and Forest Research Institute (FRI). The GBIF has made it possible for the strengthening of links and collaborative relationship between PNG’s national institutions. This encourages a good national network for collaboration and research in Papua New Guinea.