CETAF is Europe’s network of biological and geological collections.
Collectively, we are the leading European voice for taxonomy and systematic biology.
Half the world’s biological collections
Natural history museums, botanical gardens and biodiversity research centres from across Europe hold a wealth of biological and geological collections, including animals, plants, fungi, rocks and genetic resources. The collections of our 71 institutions comprise an estimated 1.5 billion specimens, including over 80% of the world’s described species. This unprecedented resource serves to drive scientific research and public engagement worldwide.
A vibrant community of experts
To manage, study and open up these collections, our community brings together a vast array of expertise in scientific research, with over 5000 scientists in 22 countries. At the heart of our work is taxonomy: a science that is fundamental to understanding the biodiversity of the world around us, studying evolutionary processes and reconstructing the history of life on Earth.
Tackling the challenges our planet faces
Taxonomic research is also the scientific pillar that supports biological disciplines such as ecology, genetics or biochemistry. Applied sciences and industries such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, eco-tourism and pharmaceutics all rely on taxonomy. By providing species inventories such as floras, faunas and checklists, taxonomy is a prerequisite for biodiversity conservation, sustainable development and the monitoring of climate impact. As such, our work plays an essential role in addressing some of the major societal challenges of our time.
To promote scientific research and access to European collections
CETAF aims to promote collection-based research into biodiversity and geodiversity, training in systematic biosciences and paleobiology, and to open up access and sharing of biodiversity data and collections with the taxonomic expertise of its member institutions across Europe.
To foster European cooperation and partnerships
The network provides a platform for its members to facilitate innovative collaborations within research and in engaging European society with the role of scientific collections in society. This cooperation works towards tangible outcomes: publications, good practices, protocols and standards.
To be a voice for taxonomy and systematic biology in Europe
Our work positions the CETAF community as a reference for taxonomy and systematic biology at European level. It also ensures worldwide recognition of the contribution of European research and collections.
CETAF in a nutshell
A bit of story
The Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities (CETAF) was formed on the 1st December 1996 because of the perceived need to combine the forces of collections-based institutions across Europe to promote taxonomy. Based on the founding principle “The CETAF will promote research in systematic biology in Europe by improving the efficiency of taxonomic facilities” the Directors of the following 10 institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding (Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France; Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Madrid, Spain; Museum Civico di Storia Naturale de Milano, Milan, Italy; Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, Germany; Naturhistoriska riksmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden; Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, UK; The Natural History, London, UK; Zoölogisch Museum, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Zoologisk Museum, University of Copenhagen, Denmark).
During 2007-2008 the 27 CETAF member institutions collectively decided to form a legal body and on 13th March 2009, the CETAF became an officially registered legal entity under Belgian law, as an International Non-for-profit Association (Association Internationale Sans But Lucratif, AISBL).
In 2011 the future organisational structure of CETAF (the CETAF business model) was approved on the 6th of April at CETAF 29 in Geneva, Switzerland and the selection of the Secretariat Host took place on the 13th of September at CETAF 30 in Madrid, Spain. In 2012 the CETAF established its General Secretariat at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels, Belgium.
Since the establishment of the General Secretariat in October 2012, CETAF has adopted a new logo, reconstructed its website, and increased its networking and its membership, while enhancing and promoting both collections and taxonomy-based activities. CETAF’s new organisational structure allows for more and better-coordinated actions within the taxonomic research community and enhanced internal and external communication activities.