Located in Belgium, the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) has a long (more than 150 years) and outstanding track record of integrated investigations in different biogeographical regions. The main expertise of its more than 100 pre- and postdoctoral researchers (40 permanent scientific staff) lies in animal taxonomy, biodiversity and ecology. RBINS houses an exceptionally rich zoological collection with a total of 37,000,000 specimens with around 100,000 primary types. It hosts the Geological Survey of Belgium, the National focal point to the Convention on Biological diversity and the Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Models (as part of the Operational Directorate Natural Environments). It is currently the BE-TAF leader for the SYNTHESYS project, and is involved in large European consortia as CETAF, EDIT, EU BON, BioFresh, BHL-Europe, ViBRANT.
Within the framework of the BioFresh project, RBINS gained a rich experience in data mobilisation and integration in the freshwater community and was responsible for the development for an on-line data portal for making biodiversity data freely and openly available. Being one of the host institutes of the Belgian Biodiversity Platform (BBPF), RBINS has strong links to the Belgian GBIF. In collaboration with them, RBINS coordinates the Freshwater Animal Diversity Assessment project and continues these activities in the framework of the AquaRES project sponsored by the Belgian Science Policy office. RBINS and the BBPF also implement SCAR-MarBIN, the Antarctic marine biodiversity portal of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research and AntaBIS, an innovative Antarctic biodiversity information system. As a partner in the EU BON project, RBINS contributes to the development of the information architecture and standards, the mobilisation and the open and on-line publication of biodiversity data.
Through its coordinating role in the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive in Belgian waters, RBINS further is actively engaged in several international platforms dealing with the management of marine biodiversity, e.g. OSPAR Intersessional Correspondence Group on the Coordination of Biodiversity Assessment and Monitoring (ICG-COBAM) and the EC Working Groups on Good Environmental Status (WGGES) and Data Information and Knowledge Exchange (WGDIKE). Through its engagements in the EC project Towards a Joint Monitoring Programme for the North Sea and Celtic Sea (JMP-NSCS) RBINS investigates means on how to increase the efficacy and efficiency of marine monitoring programmes, among which those targeting biodiversity.
RBINS contributes towards the design, implementation and maintenance of the AQUACROSS Information Platform (WP6), building on the available infrastructure and experience obtained during the BioFresh project. The focus of RBINS’ contribution with regards to this information platform is on freshwater data and information, building on existing datasets and portals, while ensuring their interoperability. Related to these activities, RBINS also identifies and documents sources of data and mobilises relevant data sets to answer the needs of other WPs in the freshwater realm. The second main area where RBINS contributes expertise concerns the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Here, RBINS contributes to the stakeholder engagement and policy integration in WP1, Stakeholder Engagement and Communication, and WP2, Policy Orientation, and to the case study 1; Ecosystem-based fisheries management in the North Sea aiming at achieving Biodiversity Strategy targets.