On 18-19 September 2000, 40 scientists and other professionals from around the world met at the California Academy of Sciences to explore the value of the establishment of the ALL Species Foundation, a non-profit (501 c 3 tax deductible) organization. The organization would catalog very living species on earth within one human generation (25 years). It was agreed that a complete inventory of all species, including microbes, on our planet would greatly enhance the capacity to conserve essential biodiversity. This inventory would need to enlist the support and cooperation of scientific organizations around the world.
The full scope of the project emerged as needs and practicalities came into clearer focus. Three workshops/ conferences were held to determine scientific and organizational priorities and initial partners.
Questions addressed early on included:
* What is the time and money needed to get near closure on “all” species? (25 years and $1-3 billion were first approximations.)
* What would have the highest yield at lowest cost? (Use of the Web to fully connect and rationalize the existing disparate rosters of species seemed and still seems a necessary and inexpensive step.)
What are the realities of getting serious field science established and maintained in countries of the South where most of the undiscovered species are located? (Enough failures and successes in this domain exist to develop best practices and proceed accordingly.)
Early on, it was recognized that to succeed, ALL Species would need a mix of capable and committed Scientists, Framers, and Funders (to use Kevin Kelly’s terminology). Almost 100 outstanding scientists and related professionals have stepped up in the ensuing two years.
Taxonomists worldwide since Linnaeus have dreamed repeatedly of identifying all species on Earth. Prior to ALL Species, all attempts have been still-born for lack of funds or lack of logistical solutions. ALL Species offered particular hope in the funding arena as it intended to target the new private wealth generated in the New Economy. New tools and technologies such as the Internet, GPS, and DNA analysis, offer additional hope that many of the logistical challenges can now be overcome.
December 2002 Forward
A generous grant from the Evert Schlinger Foundation allowed ALL Species to launch, grow, and evolve for the first two years on its 25-year mission. But as we all know, 2000 was very different time economically. None of us could have predicted the economic downturn, or an event like 9/11, which has made philanthropic giving difficult today and non-profit start-ups endangered.
ALL Species has also suffered from the current economic climate and has been unable to raise sufficient additional general operating funds. Unfortunately, as announced in a recent press release, it will officially close its San Francisco office in the Presidio on 1 December 2002. However, the California Academy of Sciences has provided an office for one staff member of ALL Species to continue work.
Despite decentralization, ALL continues to gain traction on several fronts. In fact, key Initiatives have been funded and are moving forward. The ALL Governing Board and Advisors are determined to ensure that while the ALL Species Foundation must decentralize, that the underlying concept behind ALL, to accelerate the discovery and description of all life on Earth, will continue to flourish.