The Foundational Biodiversity Information Programme (FBIP) is a long-term programme to generate, manage and disseminate foundational biodiversity information and knowledge to improve decision-making, service delivery and create new economic opportunities.

The FBIP is a joint initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). The DST provides core funding as part of the Global Change allocation. SANBI is responsible for managing the implementation of the Programme and the NRF manages the project proposal review and grant allocation process. A steering committee was established which provides the overall strategic direction for the Programme.


The information is “foundational” because it forms the basis of so many other aspects of biodiversity research and decision-making. These data sets are critical for:

Ecosystem mapping


Monitoring and reporting on the state of biodiversity


Sustainable use of biodiversity


Understanding and mitigating the impacts of global change on biodiversity


What We Do

Provide funds for the generation of  knowledge related to documenting South Africa’s biodiversity, mobilisation of species occurrence or distribution data, generation of DNA barcode data that will allow identification of biological material, and compilation of descriptive information on species

Contribute content to an integrated information management and dissemination system.

Develop and up skill people to ensure appropriate capacity for biodiversity knowledge generation, dissemination and application.

Ensure the uptake and application of foundational biodiversity research outputs generated to have an impact on global change understanding and decision-making relating to biodiversity and sustainable livelihoods (bio-economy).

How We Do It

Funding grants

The grants must result in the release of data to the FBIP / SANBI for archiving, integration, management and dissemination. The programme provides research grants for:

  • Large, collaborative and integrated team projects which align with knowledge needs, or which involve participants along the entire value chain from knowledge generation to application for decision-making. These projects will also involve postgraduate students and emerging researchers, and the up-skilling of researchers and practitioners who use the data generated.
  • Small strategic projects that address key strategic gaps in data / knowledge.

Networking and co-ordination of activities

Through an annual forum, workshops, information sharing and training sessions.

Types of biodiversity data that are funded

Species Occurrence

Biodiversity surveys, capture of data from specimens in collections

Species identity

DNA barcoding, other identification tools

Population abundance

Quantified surveys

Genetic diversity

Phylogenetic distance, population genetics

Species attributes

Photos / illustrations, biology, importance to people including cultural significance, functional role in ecosystem, and interactions with other species

Management and Team

Joe Sebola

Prof Joseph Sebola

Programme Manager

Dr Lita Pauw

Programme Co-ordinator

Dane McDonald

Science Communicator

Mahlatse Kgatla

Data Management Specialist

Steering Committee

View a full list of our steering comittee members here.