Some of the problems that the Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility (CBIF) will address

  • There is no comprehensive list of known species living in Canada.
  • A substantial amount of information has been accumulated on Canadian species by researchers employed by federal, provincial, academic, and municipal agencies.
  • An estimated 150,000 species of organisms live in Canada of which about half have been identified, named and classified.
  • Well documented information on occurrence, distribution and basic ecology is available for only a small percentage (less than 5%) of known species, and very little of this information is readily accessible.
  • Only fragmentary information exists on the current status and population trends of most of our native species and of exotic species that have been introduced into Canada or may invade Canada in the future.
  • Nearly all of our decisions affecting the conservation, sustainable use and management of the species which represent our living capital are currently based upon incomplete and inaccurate information.
  • Canadians require scientifically sound, up-to-date and accessible information on species identities, occurrence and distribution in order to conserve our living capital, develop sustainable practices for using our biological resources and protect the health of our human population and our native ecosystems.
  • We must substantially increase our capacity to produce, organize and use information about species in order to meet Canada's obligations as enumerated in the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy.
  • There is no directory to document the sources of information on Canadian species and our accumulated knowledge is scattered in idiosyncratic filing systems distributed among many agencies. Many of our historical data sources that were stored in manual, paper-based filing systems are inaccessible.
  • Digital technologies now permit efficient organization, sharing and dissemination of species data in formats that can be integrated into information systems to support decision making. However, there has been no concerted effort in Canada to apply these powerful tools to manage biodiversity information.
  • Our population of scientific experts in the fields of systematics and species ecology is rapidly aging and is not being replenished by young graduates.
  • Most developed countries and international agencies are rapidly adopting strategic plans to improve their capacities to produce, organize and use species data. These plans typically integrate initiatives aimed at increasing and focussing scientific research and technology transfer with commitments to educate and train the next generation of scientists, resource managers and technologists with new skill sets needed for effective management and application of biodiversity information.
  • The accessibility and reliability of our information about species of importance to Canadians will increasingly enable or restrict our scientific competitiveness and our ability to participate in international scientific and economic ventures.
  • Our ecological, social and economic welfare will increasingly depend upon our ability to integrate scientifically sound information on our biodiversity into our decision making  processes.