Belgium

General information

About this country

The Danish consortium currently consists of 3 partners: Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen (national museum for natural history) – Natural History Museum Aarhus – The Science Museums, Aarhus University. There are several further, smaller collections, mainly zoological and geological, which may eventually join the consortium.

Danish natural history museums signed a partnership agreement in 2010, aiming at the establishment of one national natural history collection, i.e., one common digital access point to these collections.

participating institutions

Serge Scory

Belgian NTF Manager
be@dissco.eu

By writing to this email you reach all current  Belgian DiSSCo coordinators and operational contacts.

Denmark

Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

Zoological, botanical, and geological collections (14M specimens) of global scope with particular strengths in Danish and Greenlandic (arctic) material. International collection acronym NHMD. The Danish GBIF node, DanBIF, is located at NHMD, next door to GBIF’s international secretariat. The Danish Bird Ringing centre is also located at NHMD. Staff including 48 researchers (permanent, postdocs and Ph.D. students), 14 curators, 18 collection managers.

Royal Museum for Central Africa

Mainly Danish, mainly zoological collections (4M specimens).International collection acronym NHMA . Staff including 2 researchers, 4 curators, 2 collections managers.

Meise Botanic Garden

Meise Botanic Garden (MeiseBG): Besides acting as coordinator for Flanders and being the relay for FWB and RW, the institution contributes with their knowhow in both physical and digital collection management. Meise BG hosts about 4 million preserved collections items among which about 3.5 million herbarium sheets and 500 000 fungi collections including lichens. The outdoor (92 ha) and indoor living collections comprise over 25000 accessions including important crop wild relatives from coffee and bananas with high economical importance. The seed bank of the Garden conserves more than 6600 accessions notably of endangered Belgian flora, the endemics of the Copper Hills in Katanga, and a unique collections of wild beans and bananas. There are close to 10 000 DNA extracts stored in relation to our molecular activities. MeiseBG is busy mass digitizing its entire preserved collection of herbarium sheets which progress can be consulted here : http://www.botanicalcollections.be/#/en/home. The public can contribute to mobilise more data about our collections via our crowdsourcing platform here: https://www.doedat.be/. MeiseBG staff is expert in Biodiversity Information Standards and active member of TDWG (www.TDWG.org). 

More info on Meise BG : https://www.plantentuinmeise.be/en/home/

Research Institute for Nature and Forest

The Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO) is the Flemish research and knowledge centre for nature and its sustainable management and use. INBO conducts research and supplies knowledge to all those who prepare or make the policies or are interested in them as a stakeholder. Through its scientific research, INBO supports all agencies dealing with open space in the Flemish government, as well as in organisations involved in nature conservation, forestry, agriculture, hunting and fishery. INBO publishes its results as open data and provides data for international reporting. It participates in (inter)national research networks such as LTER, ALTER-Net, LifeWatch. INBO will notably act as liaison between biodiversity field and collection data. Furthermore INBO houses a collection of trees and shrubs from Belgium and a soil collection that will enrich the Earth Science collections within DiSSCo. Staff members of INBO are very skilled in Biodiversity Informatics and part of the Belgium Biodiversity Platform acting as the countries GBIF node. 

More info on INBO: https://www.inbo.be/en

Flemish Institute for the Sea

The Flemish Institute for the Sea (VLIZ) is active in LifeWatch, the Catalogue of Life and is involved in many European and international Marine related networks. Several ongoing activities at VLIZ are highly relevant to DiSSCo. VLIZ is active in observatories and data archeology. VLIZ will contribute mainly as a service provider, notably through their developments on a Taxonomic Backbone. The system contains a lot more info then purely taxonomic information, and gives access to a range of species information, including species traits, distribution, habitat information, links and direct access to literature and deep-links with genetic databases such as e.g. GenBank. Interlinking such data with the data of collections will broaden research applications and potential of the collections. VLIZ collects and holds physical collections of seawater, sediments and cores from boreholes, but also genetic and digital resources of planktonic and Belgian marine species in general. They also have a range of equipment for digitisation of plankton and diatoms. Both at Belgium and International level, VLIZ will ensure synergies between activities of DiSSCo and LifeWatch infrastructures.

More info on VLIZ: http://www.vliz.be/en/

Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp

Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp (KDMA): The KMDA was established in 1843 as an association and has four brands under its wing: Antwerp ZOO, Planckendael, Serpentarium and the Koningin Elisabethzaal. In addition, the KMDA manages the De Zegge nature reserve in Geel. With more than 2 million visitors a year, the KMDA is the biggest actor amongst Belgium’s tourist attractions; it also plays a leading role on the world stage in terms of scientific research and conservation. In DiSSCo the Society will play an important role in terms of zoological living collections. They harbour also an arboretum and host genetic, tissues and cell collections. Furthermore they play an important role as link with the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA). Their experience with the data management systems used in this domain will be very valuable for the implementation of DiSSCo. 

Université libre de Bruxelles

Université libre de Bruxelles (Free University of Brussels, ULB) is a French-speaking private research university in Brussels. Its foundation goes back to 1834. Currently there are about 3600 researchers and 2000 PhD students active in the ULB. It currently participates in DiSSCo with is herbarium (http://herbarium.ulb.ac.be/) which houses 250,000 specimens, including about 600 type specimens. The core of the collection is about vascular plants from Central Africa, notably from Katanga with the flora from metal rich soils, the flora of Atlantic equatorial Africa. Highlights are about 6000 Orchids from tropical Africa including tissue samples for DNA extractions for about 5000 specimens. The University also plays an important role in capacity building with for example the ERASMUS Mundus Master in Tropical Biodiversity and Ecosystems TROPIMUNDO. Besides the herbarium, the ULB also harbors other scientific collections. In the framework of DiSSCo a detailed inventory will be made with prioritisation for conservation, digitisation, publication and re-use.

More info : https://www.ulb.be/en

Université de Namur

The University of Namur (UNamur), founded in 1831 in Namur, is a Jesuit, Catholic private university in the French Community of Belgium. Both teaching and research are carried out. The main campus is located at the heart of the city of Namur, the capital of Wallonia. The university employs more than 1000 researchers with about 6500 students a year. UNamur currently participates in DiSSCo with its herbarium of about 70 000 specimens of Phanerogams, Pteridophytes and Bryophytes. It is a small but very valuable, historical herbarium and the most complete and well-preserved collection of Brendel botanical models are among the highlights. Since 2018 the collection is hosted within the Library of the University where it has become accessible not only for research but also for outreach and capacity building. UNamur hosts also other important scientific collections, which will be inventorised and addressed in the framework of DiSSCo. 

More Info : https://www.unamur.be/en

Partner institutes

Facilities in Belgium

Roadmaps

National Funding

The different Belgian governmental authorities have funding mechanisms to which the DiSSCo consortium or the different partners may apply.

For the federal institutions: Support is provided through various funding mechanisms via structural funds or calls mainly via the Belgian Science Policy Office BELSPO (e.g. the “DIGIT” federal digitisation programme, the “Natural Heritage” BRAIN project or the granted one shot funding called “DiSSCo Fed” project). Open calls are published here.

For the Flemish institutions, the second phase of the digitisation program DOE (1.5 Mio Euro) is currently ongoing. This is structural funding provided by the Flemish government via the department of Economy, Research and Innovation (EWI) to mass-digitise the entire herbarium collection of the Meise BG. The Flemish Research Funds (FWO) has specific infrastructure calls linked to the ESFRI Roadmap every 2 years. Their calls govern how infrastructures are supported and financed in Flanders. New partners can join an adopted infrastructure such as DiSSCo by being part of an application submitted by the Coordinator. Additionally there are other calls for proposals at the FWO that can further support activities around DiSSCo.

For the Federation Wallonia-Brussels, structural funding is appointed to the different ESFRIs via a supporting letter produced by the higher management of the collection holding institutions to present an action plan and budget by the acting coordinator to the government together with the FWB members current and future representatives. An multi-annual budget is attributed to the Infrastructures retained. Furthermore, the partners can apply for additional funds at the FNRS: the French Speaking part of Belgium Research Funds.

In the Walloon Region, structural funds are appointed to the ESFRIs via supporting letters produced by the higher management of the collection holding institutions with a presentation to the representative in charge, similarly to the plan explained for the FWB. Research here falls under the DG06 for Research and Technologies. Walloon actors may apply to various additional funding mechanisms, notably via the different Competitiveness clusters in place. Wallonia has quite some opportunities in terms of public-private partnerships or creation of Spin-Offs:

Our achievements

Success Stories

Giant Needleleaf

Giant Needleleaf

Rediscovery of giant needleleaf in Belgium due to a 152 year old herbarium specimen

Since March 2018 the Belgian herbarium of Meise Botanic Garden has been digitized and is now open to public consultation. Botanists, both professionals and passionate amateurs, find their way to this digital herbarium collection. As did Annelies Jacobs from Natuurpunt (a nature organisation in Flanders).

An herbarium specimen from giant needleleaf (Polycnemum majus) from the herbarium of G. Dens, collected on 4 September 1866, caught her attention. This species had been considered extinct in Belgium since 1946. The herbarium label contained more information. The specimen was collected by François Crépin, a specialist on the Belgian flora and the former director of the Botanic Garden. The accurate site description was also mentioned: “Côteaux schisteux. Rochefort, au lieu-dit le Tige.” (Schist hillside. Rochefort, at the place called le Tige). She explored the site where the plant was collected with Steven Jacobs and surprisingly discovered a relict population of this species, after more than 150 years!

The rediscovery of this species, due to the digital herbarium, shows the importance of an herbarium as reference collection for historical data. The label information can disclose the historical and sometimes also the current location of species.

More information: Dumortiera 114

Further success stories are posted regularly here.

Everything on one screen

Collection Dashboard

The dashboard you can see below contains data on the collections of natural science institutions across Europe. Page one shows the approximate number of collections per category for all of the 89 institutes who participated in an initial DiSSCo survey and page two the national contributions to the European collection. The selection boxes allow filtering for country and institutions. The data in this dashboard is populated with information as sent by the DiSSCo partners through an initial survey in November 2017 and should therefore be considered as preliminary Following that survey, we went through a rigorous process of identifying obvious errors and contacting individuals to correct those. Nevertheless it will probably still contain some errors and information might be outdated. Please contact Niels Raes if you detect any issues so the data can be updated.

If you would like to see a full screen version of the dashboard, please click here.