SwissCollNet aims to unite all Swiss natural history collections, large or small, under a shared vision to promote their patrimonial importance, harness their scientific value for research and develop their educational potential for science and society.
With more than 60 million specimens of animals, plants, fungi, rocks, soil samples and fossils, Switzerland’s museums, universities, and botanical gardens store remarkably extensive collections: taken together, they form an entity whose scientific value is comparable to that of the most prestigious foreign institutions. However, only 17 percent of this international scientific and patrimonial treasure is digitised. This means that a large part of this unique data on biodiversity and the environment is not easily accessible for research and education.
The Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) and a large network of experts from collection-holding institutions, from institutions of higher education as well as representatives of musnatcoll, the Swiss Systematics Society, GBIF.ch and Info Species have decided to join forces and set the foundations for a common plan of action to mobilise specimen data from Swiss natural history collections.
From 2018 to 2020, they have structured a solid and collaborative network to highlight the needs, challenges and priorities of the collections and natural history institutions. This bottom-up approach enabled the launch of SwissCollNet, supported to date by 36 collection-holding institutions.
SwissCollNet has the following objectives:
- Promote modern standards in management and curation of collections (e.g. )
- Upgrade the quality of the participating collections
- Provide open access to bio- and geodiversity data in the Swiss institutions, leading to the creation of a Swiss Virtual Natural History Collection (SVNHC)
- Promote and support the scientific potential of collections for research
- Integrate the Swiss natural history collections into international initiatives (e.g. )