What is CETAF

CETAF is the Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities: a European network of Natural Science Museums, Natural History Museums, Botanical Gardens and Biodiversity Research Centres with their associated biological collections and research expertise.

We aim to promote training, research and understanding in systematic biology and palaeobiology, and facilitate access to information (collections) and the expertise of its member institutions across Europe.

The CETAF network comprises 37 members representing 63 of the largest taxonomic institutions from 22 European countries. Its member institutions include Natural History Museums, Natural Sciences Museums, Botanical Gardens and other research institutions, with their associated collections and research expertise. Our collections comprise an estimated 1.5 billion specimens and represent more than 80% of the world’s described species. The collections themselves contain specimens of animals, plants, fungi, rocks or genetic resources that are used for scientific research and exhibitions. Owing to these collections, CETAF collectively represents an unprecedented resource for scientific research across the globe and its members act as the custodians of our common heritage. CETAF member institutions dedicate themselves to both the preservation of this rich heritage as well as to the promotion of it through scientific research, education and public outreach.

Taxonomy is a science that is fundamental to the understanding of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. It explores and documents the natural world at different levels (species, genera, families, orders), and allows researchers to understand evolutionary events  as well as to reconstruct the history of life on earth. Taxonomic research is the scientific pillar that supports a variety of other disciplines ranging from biology and ecology, to industries such as forestry and fisheries, eco-tourism and pharmaceutics; it also contributes to agricultural development, understanding the impacts of climate change, and to the alleviation of poverty, amongst many other societal challenges.

Beyond hosting major European collections, and housing research centres of excellence in taxonomy via its members, CETAF provides a platform for researchers from a wide variety of scientific disciplines who carry out pioneering research and develop innovative knowledge exchange pathways. From the digitalisation of collections to the use of digital media to stimulate the sharing of data, CETAF fosters the development of information services for scientific and public use.

 Our mission: to explore and document diversity in nature

 Our objectives:

           - promote scientific research and access to European collections

           - enable the formation of partnerships to exploit European funding opportunities

           - to be a voice for taxonomy and systematic biology in Europe



Here you can find a range of documents that support the position of CETAF as a key player in addressing todays’ societal challenges, both in Europe and beyond:

CETAF 2018 The Bratislava Declaration on the 2050 Vision of the CBD

CETAF & GBIF 2018 Joint Statement "Taxonomy in the Post-2020 Framework for Biodiversity"

CETAF 2018 CETAF and DiSSCo - An Unprecedented Opportunity for Natural Science Collections

San Francisco Declaration 2012. Final DORA Declaration.

CETAF 2008. Position Paper on Biodiversity and Europe: the Contribution of Taxonomy and the European Taxonomic Facilities.

CETAF 2004. Position Paper. Biodiversity and Europe: the contribution of taxonomy and the European taxonomic facilities.

CETAF 2004. Support for European Directory of Species Names.


CETAF - a small piece of history

cetaf - old logo

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 the 10 institutions signed of 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 April at CETAF 29 in Geneva, Switzerland and the selection of the Secretariat Host took place on the 13th 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 of 2012, CETAF has adopted a new logo, reconstructed its website, 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.