In 1998, the biologists Frank Glaw and Jörn Köhler further developed an idea first thought of by Professor Gerhard Haszprunar (of the State Zoological Collection in Munich), whereby individual sponsorships are issued for newly discovered animal and plant species. The governmentally funded "Tropenökologisches Begleitprogramm - TÖB" of the GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit = German Technical Co-operation) proved the qualified partner for this enterprise. In December 1999, with the backing of TÖB, an association named 'BIOPAT-Patrons for Biodiversity' was set up. Its founding members, in addition to Frank Glaw (ZSM), Jörn Köhler (ZFMK) and Claus Bätke (TÖB), were: Professor Dr. Gerhard Haszprunar of the State Zoological Collection in Munich (Zoologische Staatssammlung München/ZSM); Professor Dr. Clas Naumann of the Alexander Koenig Zoological Research Institute and Museum in Bonn (Zoologisches Forschungsinstitut und Museum Alexander Koenig/ZFMK); Dr. Michael Türkay of the Centre for Biodiversity Research in Senckenberg, Frankfurt am Main (Naturmuseum und Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg/SGN); Professor Dr. Kurt Schminke of the Biosystematics Society in Oldenburg (Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik/GfBS); Professor Dr. Eduard Linsenmair of the German Society for Tropical Ecology in Würzburg (Gesellschaft für Tropenökologie/GTÖ); and Professor Dr. Pierre Ibish of the Bolivian non-governmental organization Friends of Nature Foundation (Fundación Amigos de la Naturaleza/FAN).
BIOPAT is a non-profit-making association set up to raise funds, through donation, for use in making taxonomical descriptions of biodiversity, systematically recording it, and ensuring its preservation. At a time when the public coffers are empty, researchers are finding it more and more difficult to accomplish the task of classifying and, where necessary, naming undescribed animal and plant species (taxonomical research). And yet taxonomy is an essential prerequisite if beleaguered biodiversity is to be afforded effective protection.
Membership of BIOPAT is open to any adult, or any legal person in public or private law-universities, for example, or museums, private research-institutes, and nature-conservation organizations. BIOPAT expressly invites research institutes and committed specialists to work with, and join, the association.
Because BIOPAT is a non-profit-making association, donations made to it are fully tax-deductible.
- offers donors the opportunity of sponsoring a newly discovered animal or plant species and of giving this a scientific name of their own choice.
- agrees sponsors' choice of names with the researchers responsible for identifying the new species.
- maintains a scientific Advisory Council that verifies the bona fides of the co-operating researchers and issues recommendations as to whether a particular species should be included in the BIOPAT sponsorship scheme. The Advisory Council is made up of staff from various research institutes. External specialists dealing with particular taxonomical groups may be brought in to help with the appraisal process.
- ensures that the names suggested by donors are allocated in a scientifically sound and formally correct manner.
- provides sponsors with documentary proof of their personal choice of name for the new species in question.
- ensures that, in accordance with the association's statutes, half the donated funds go to the promotion of taxonomical research in the co-operating institutes and half to research projects aimed at protecting biodiversity in the countries of origin of the new species.
- publishes on its website www.biopat.de the newly allocated species names and information about the research projects and protective measures being supported.