Email from John Pickering to Malika, 6 July, 2005

Date: Wed, 6 Jul 2005 11:16:58 -0400
From: John Pickering
Subject: Discover Life technology centers in Morocco and elsewhere


Thanks. As long as you are involved with your ties to NAFRINET, GISIN and
your government, I think that the University in Marrakech might be an
excellent home for one of our proposed 8 regional technology centers to
help gather and share biodiversity information. Universities have the
advantage that they can easily recruit students and faculty to help our
endeavor. Besides biologists and technical experts, we need lingustic
skills translating information that could involve university students. In
Georgia, our art department helps recruit our team of scientific

We're considering a number of factors in choosing potential homes for the
centers. These include everything from geopolitics, geography, and
regional biota to reliable electricity, security, and Internet band width.
Above all, we want broad based local support. It would be particularly
good if you could muster buy-in across several agencies and organizations.
A partnership between Dr. Ghamizi and you would be a great start. Have you
any local conservation organizations and ties to K-12 schools that you
could also bring into the mix? Think letters of support and handshakes
rather than formal legal agreements. We want to get the job done, not get
bogged down in more meetings and paper work.

The mission of the envisioned local centers will be to provide technical
support within each region and to serve information to Web users in the
region's local languages. Our initial goal is to recruit and train a staff
of 1-3 biologists for each center, ideally a botanist, entomologist, and
pest/invasive/marine type. Initial training will include workshops that
Gary and I will give in host countries. We'll then select individuals for
3-5 month visits to Georgia and Harvard for more advanced, extensive, hands
on training in computers and photography. In turn, the regional centers
will transfer the technology to other countries, train folks, and provide
worldwide support.

I hope that Connal will help organize a center in Pretoria that will
support much of Africa. It would be great if we could also have a center
in Morocco to provide support, from the biological perspective, to study
and monitor the biota of the drier parts of Africa and the Middle East, and
from the geopolitical perspective, the Moslem world, where for obvious
reasons you have more trust. Thus, I could foresee you supporting as far
east as Pakistan and as far south as parts of Nigeria.

I hope this all makes sense. I'm not a diplomat but a biologist and
teacher. Please share this with your friends and send me your thoughts.
I'll visit Soetikno on the 15th to give a seminar and training workshop in
Kuala Lumpur, followed by a visit to Prof. Maryati and the Danum Valley in
Sabah, Borneo. During my trip, we'll flesh out more details for the
prospectus, which we need to finish by the 23 August. I'll be back from
Asia on 29 July. Not sure how much access to email I'll have whilst there.

I look forward to hearing from Dr. Ghamizi and you. I'll try to be in
contact again before my trip.


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