Indonesia-US initiative launches Biodiversity Research Center in Bali

The Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center (IBRC) was officially launched Tuesday,  paving a way for a team of Indonesia and US scientists to draw a fuller, comprehensive picture of the country’s biodiversity.

Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and supported by Smithsonian Institute, The National Museum of Natural History, USA. IBRC is a collaborative research endeavor pursued by Bali-based Udayana University UNUD),  Manokwari-based Papua State University (UNIPA),  Semarang-based Diponegoro University (UNDIP) and two US universities; Norfolk-based Old Dominion University (ODU) and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology University of California,  Los Angeles (UCLA). UNUD will host the Center at its Biomedic Lab in Sesetan, South Denpasar.

Rectors of UNUD, UNIPA and UNDIP, as well as UCLA’s representative signed the memorandum of cooperation to mark the launch of IBRC.  Following the launching ceremony, a symposium on molecular approaches in biodiversity research was held, presenting results of trainings and researches that had been conducted since 2009.

“It is a very productive cooperation and is in line with the Udayana University mission to be a world-class university,”  UNUD rector, Prof. Dr.  I Made Bakta stated.

One of IBRC’s initiators, Prof. Dr. I Gusti Ngurah Mahardika said the Center will be the focal point for biodiversity research, training and species collection.

“ IBRC  is the magnet that will attract Indonesian and international scientists to carry out researches focusing on biodiversity,” he said.

As many as 30 Indonesian and 30 US scientists will form the core of the Center’s research team. They will employ the latest available technology and methodology in molecular genetic to gain understanding on the intricate nature and formation of Indonesia’s marine biodiversity. Such understanding is essential in designing  more effective conservation strategies.  Indonesia lies in what is called as the world’s “Coral Triangle”, a region with tremendous marine biodiversity.

The establishment of IBRC was seen as a strategic move since Indonesia, an archipelagic country with mega biodiversity status, is still behind on the number of researchers and researches focused on marine biodiversity.

“(IBRC) will significantly enhance Indonesia’s capacity to study its own biodiversity,” IBRC’s chief researcher Dr. Paul H. Barber said.