According to Donat Agosti in Correspondence (Nature 439, 392; 200610.1038/439392a), biodiversity data are beyond the reach of many taxonomists in the developing world. But since 1999, the State of São Paulo Research Foundation in Brazil has supported a research programme called BIOTA/ FAPESP on characterization, conservation and sustainable use of the state's biodiversity (see http://www.biota.org.br).
In the past six years the programme, for which I am a member of the steering committee, has produced an atlas of the remnants of native vegetation, supported 75 research projects, trained about 250 post-graduate students, catalogued approximately 10,000 species and made data from 35 biological collections freely available.
In 2001, the programme launched an open-access electronic peer-reviewed journal, Biota Neotropica (http://www.biotaneotropica.org.br), for original research on biodiversity in the neotropical region. And in 2002 the programme began a venture called BIOprospecTA (http://www.bioprospecta.org.br), in order to search for new compounds of economic interest.
Similar initiatives are under way in Mexico (CONABIO; http://www.conabio.gob.mx), Costa Rica (INBIO; http://www.inbio.ac.cr) and Africa (BIOTA Africa; http://www.biota-africa.de), showing that many developing countries are aware of their responsibilities under the Convention on Biological Diversity.