Internet-based Biodiversity Database Workshop April 24 - 27, 2000

Opening Remarks and Welcome

Mary Klein

Director, Colorado Natural Heritage Program

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to this workshop here in beautiful Colorado. Es con mucho gusto que yo digo bienvenidos a esta conferencia en Colorado.

You have been invited here because you are a leader and an expert in your field, whether that is biology, information science and management, computer science, Internet applications, or geographical information systems. The subject matter is bioinformatics and conservation,, and the task before us this week is to envision, together, a system that will make the treasure that is the Conservation Data Center Network available through a seamless, Internet-based data system.

This event represents the genesis of that, as yet undescribed system. It is Phase I of a multi-year project to address the need for a functional, distributed data system for the Network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers that meets the needs of a wide range of users.

Yet, event though I refer to this system as "yet undescribed," everyone here has already been thinking about solutions to the central issues on the table. Much work has already been done and a number of leading-edge applications will be put on the table as potential models and partnerships that we can build upon to achieve our long-term objectives.

With that in mind, I would like to extend a special welcome to our distinguished speakers. Representatives from ERIN in Australia, the National Biological Information Infrastructure, the North American Biodiversity Information Network, MARIS (Multistate Aquatic Resource Information System), The Environmental Conservation Online System, the Species Analyst project, and INBio in Costa Rica will be sharing their experiences and insights with us. In addition, technical experts for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, ESRI, ORACLE, and Microsoft will provide a glimpse into the current and future potential for creating the kind of data system that will help the Network reach its full potential as a biodiversity information source.

The discussions of user needs and partnership opportunities will also be enhanced by our colleagues who have joined us from other organizations including: the US Forest Service, Fish & Wildlife Service, USGS Biological Resources Division, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, NY Botanical Garden, University of Kansas, University of Minnesota, and Natural Resource Ecology Lab.

And of course, it is so much fun to see so many of my colleagues for the Natural Heritage Programs, Conservation Data Centers, the Association for Biodiversity Information, and The Nature Conservancy! WE have many programs represented here this week, from California to Panama, to the Atlantic provinces of Canada. Thank you all for coming and helping us to "keep it real" by sharing your own inspirations and concerns regarding the development of one of the most important collaborative efforts that we will tackle together.

Now I would like to introduce our Keynote Speaker, Dr. Mark Schaefer, President and CEO of the Association for Biodiversity Information. Mark has distinguished career in public service, most recently as Acting Assistant Secretary of the US Department of Interior. I am on the Board that helped select Mark for his position with ABI, and we were impressed with his depth of understanding of biodiversity information. He brings a special synthesis of scientific, personal, and social understanding to conservation issues, and a natural gift for communication. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Schaefer.