Scientists from around the world plan to collaborate on a free website aimed at providing information on all 1.8 million known species of animals, plants, and other living creatures on the planet.
The ‘Encyclopedia of Life’ project, officially launched on Tuesday, will provide written information on each species over the next 10 years. When available, the site will also offer photographs, video, sound, location maps, and other multimedia information. The project was initiated by several US organizations, including Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, Harvard University, the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Smithsonian Foundation.
The effort is funded by $12.5 million (Rs51.25 crore) in grant from the McArthur and Sloan Foundations. Already 1.25 million pages of information have been scanned for the project. The “site will provide valuable biodiversity and conservation information to anyone, anywhere, at any time,” said James Edwards, a biologist picked to head the project. “Through collaboration, we all can increase our appreciation of the immense variety of life, the challenges to it, and ways to conserve the biodiversity,” he said.