Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum, Berlin-Dahlem Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum, Berlin-Dahlem

Biodiversity Informatics

"Biodiversity Informatics", The Term

This following correspondence may be of interest: 

[Berendsohn to Edwards]

in a paper I am preparing I attribute the coining of the term "Biodiversity Informatics" to you as follows:
Edwards, J. L. 1996: OECD Working Group on Biological Informatics - 1st Meeting, Notes on the Draft Agenda. Washington [Unpublished].
Is that correct? Is there an earlier (or slightly later) published reference?

[Edwards to Berendsohn]

The first time that I can find the use of the term "biodiversity informatics" in my own files is in the U.S. proposal for an OECD Megascience Forum Working Group on Biological Informatics. This was submitted to the eighth meeting of the Megascience Forum, held in Paris on 25-27 January 1996. 
However, this does not appear to be the first use of the term. I did a Google search and found a web page ( which states that the Canadian Biodiversity Informatics Consortium was founded in 1993. And there may be even earlier uses of the term; I didn't look at all 7800 hits that Google returned.

[Berendsohn to John Whiting, named as contact on the above page]

on your website I found that the Canadian Biodiversity Informatics Consortium (CBIC) was formed in 1993. Did it use that name at the time? And, to your knowledge, was that the first time the term "Biodiversity Informatics" was used? And, if so, do you wish to attribute the term to a person or document in particular (for citation in scientific articles)?

[Whiting to Berendsohn]

How interesting it is to hear from you. The world is changing so fast, and I had no idea at the time that the term Biodiversity Informatics would be of academic interest.

I coined the term as part of a title for what was at first a loose affiliation between about five agencies (including myself, a firm specializing in GPS, and GIS firm, a firm specializing in database management, a firm specializing in environmental economics, and a representative of the Canadian Museum of Nature). I had brought them together because of my perception of their possible role in some potential business aspects of implementing the CBD. I had made a diagram that illustrated what I thought might be some of the key information requirements for implementing the Convention, and they agreed to join the group.

I had participated as a member of the Canadian delegation throughout the negotiations of the CBD, and "retired" just as the Convention was launched. I lead the group and, as I recall, we debated whether we would call the group it the Canadian Biodiversity Geomatics Consortium, but eventually focused on Canadian Biodiversity Informatics Consortium (in 1992) as being the most descriptive of what we had in mind. I don't recall ever having heard the two terms together before. We eventually formed it into a corporate entity (1993) so that it could sign contracts in its own right. It did quite well for a time. CBIC has since been disbanded as the large consulting firms took on the role in a much larger way for doing the smaller components of work for much more money than the holistic approach we were promoting. Maybe we were ahead of our time!

[Whiting to Berendsohn]

Please feel free to post my response to your earlier e-mail if you wish. 
I am also intrigued that the listing for CBIC is still in the government of Canada's listing for Canadian Environmental Solutions (CES). They even have my up-to-date mailing address, but I moved here after I closed the company and closed the URL with full Web site for CBIC (even though I still maintain the domain name ""). Interesting!

Print Page