European natural history institutions get 13 million euro boost

March 5, 2004

Brussels, 04 Mar 2004

A consortium of 20 European natural history institutions, including museums and botanical gardens, has been awarded 13 million euro over five years under the Research Infrastructures initiative of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).

The project, entitled, SYNTHESYS, will create the world's largest natural history network, offering easy and coordinated access to the content of Europe's natural science collections and resources to scientists across the EU.

This project was the initiative of the Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities (CETAF). Marian Ramos, CETAF chair and Vice-Director of research at the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Spain, said 'With initiatives like SYNTHESYS, CETAF seeks to increase the quality of its member institutions by increasing collaboration, thus optimising utilisation of collections, equipment and facilities, and enriching communication and exchange of scientific expertise. Both the scientific community and society at large will benefit greatly from these enhanced collective efforts.'

Coordinated by the Natural History Museum in London, the project will assimilate information on the natural world by bringing together collections, institute facilities and expertise from 20 institutions from 11 European countries. Together those institutions will create a unique resource of more than 337 million zoological, botanical, entomological, geological and palaeontological specimens.

SYNTHESYS will provide an opportunity for exchanging information and stimulating research in areas such as biodiversity and the environment, and will also aim to raise scientists' awareness of best practices in handling and sampling collections by offering training and workshop opportunities and guidelines for the care, storage and conservation of collections.

'SYNTHESYS will ensure that our collections and knowledge are shared and used to the maximum benefit of all,' said Graham Higley, the SYNTHESYS project leader. 'It will allow the partnership institutions to set the highest possible standards in collection care and take on the responsibility for ensuring their long term availability.'

The project will provide fully funded visits to the 20 institutions for researchers from all the European Union's Member and Associated States.

For further information, please visit: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/science/rco/sysreso urce/index.html

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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