Kew Scientist - April 1995: Issue 7
April 1995: Issue 7


Welcome to the second edition of Kew Scientist to be made available on the Internet. If you have any comments or suggestions, please email them to Dr Geoff Kite.
Features in this issue:


Director's Message: Brazil

Kew has been interested in Brazil for many years. The Herbarium contains the mid 19th-century collections of Richard Spruce from Amazonia and those of George Gardner and William Burchell from central Brazil as well as many other important collections that are rich in type specimens. This issue of Kew Scentist shows that we are still deeply involved in Brazil in many different ways. It is logical that we should be working in Brazil because it is one of the 'megadiversity' countries having over 50 000 species of flowering plants a much greater number of fungi and a huge range of ecosystems including the rainforests of Amozonia and the Atlantic coast the cerrado or savannas of the central highlands and the arid desert-like caatinga of the Northeast. There is still much basic inventory work to be carried out and our projects are still finding many new species such as the 75 described in the Flora of the Pico dos Almas or the 350 that I have found in Amazonia.

A basic inventory provides essential information for projects in both conservation and sustainable development. Since poorly planned development and colonisation projects have led to much destruction of the natural vegetation of Brazil it is vital that we are now involved with projects that help both to conserve and use the vegetation in a more rational and sustainable way. Thus we have colloborated wilh many Brazilian institutions to develop the 'Plantas do Nordeste' project which covers both biodiversity and sustainable development aspects. I am greatly encouraged that this project has recently received major funding from the National Brazilian Research Council. This funding includes considerable support for training which is an important part of our collaboration with Brazil. Many Brazilian botanists, artists and conservationists have been trained through our joint work with Brazil often with financial assistance from the Margaret Mee Amazon Trust and this training element will now increase through the new grant.

Painting of Crataegus persimilis at Kew by regine Julianele, one of 6 Brazilian artists who have worked with Christabel king, funded by Margret Mee amazon Trust scholarships.

The success of our work in Brazil is due to its colIaborative nature with scientists from Kew always working in close co-operation with Brazilion colleagues There is still much to be done in exploring cataloguing preserving and using the Brazilian flora and our work there is likely to continue for many years ahead. Only 12% of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed so far and so a lot still remains to work for. The destruction of natural vegetation in the cerrado and caatinga habitats is far more serious which is one of the reasons why we focus more on these ecosystems. However we will only succeed in helping to preserve this fantostic biodiversity if we maintain a balance between work on conservation and sustainable development.

Contact Prof. Ghillean T. Prance, Director

Email: Ghillean Prance


Mahogany fails CITES listing

FOR once plant issues overshadowed those of rhino and elephant conservation at the latest 'CITES Conference of the Parties' (Fort Lauderdale Florida 7-18 November 1994). Kew as the UK CITES Scientific Authority for plants was represented on the UK delegation by Noel McGough of the Conventions and Policy Section. Proposals to list timber trees notably Swietenia macrophylla, Khaya and Entandrophragma spp. resulted in vigorous despute. None were successful although the proposal to list S. macrophylla just failed to gain the required two-thirds majority by six votes. The only timber initiative approved was the UK proposal for a working group to address technical issues. Other major issues included listing of several medicinal plant species, adoption of a nursery registration scheme and new criteria for amending CITES appendices. The testing of these criteria for plants was done by Kew staff and the results were presented to the conference. Full details are availuble in CITES News - Plants.

TS wood of Swietenia macrophylla

Contact Noel McGough (0181-332-5722)

Email: Noel McGough


Biodiversity Convention

Gail Bromley, Roger Smith and Noel McGough represented Kew at the first 'Biodiversity Convention Conference of the Parties' (28 Nov - 9 Dec 1994, Nassau). Major decisions relevant to botanical institutions were:

  • to establish a subsidiary body providing scientific, technical and technological advice; it will first meet from 4-8 September 1995 in Paris under the chairmanship of Dr Jameson Seyani of Malawi.
  • to develop a proposal for a clearing house mechanism on scientific and technical cooperation, with priority being given to regional growth and strengthening existing institutions.
  • to establish a three-year work programme which includes analysis of threats to biodiversity and an investigation of access to genetic resources.

A Biodiversity Technology Fair ran in parallel with the conference at which Kew mounted an exhibition on its training programmes.


Bicentenary Medal

THIS year the Linnean Society of London has awarded its Bicentenary Medal to Dr Marie Kurmann (below) in recognition of her contributions to biology as a young researcher . Since working at Kew, first with a fellowship from the Swiss National Science Fund and later as a Kew fellow, Marie's meticulous research has won her an international reputation in the field of morphology and ontogeny of extant and fossil pollen, and its significance in understanding the evolution of the Coniferales. Her publicutions include systematic pollen morphology in extant conifers, comparative studies between living and fossil pollen and spores, as well as ontogenetic investigations. Currently Marie is completing a Handbook on Pollen Morphology and Ultrastructure in the Coniferales.

Dr. Marie Kurmann


Kew Scientist

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB.

Tel: 0181 332 5000 Fax: 0181 332 5310

Email Editor: Prof. Mike Bennett

Email Production Editor: Dr Geoff Kite

Editorial Advisory Team:

Herbarium: Dr P. Cribb, D. Field, Dr G. Lewis, E. Cowley, N. McGough, Dr N. Hind

Jodrell Laboratory: Prof M. Bennett, Dr P. Rudall, Dr M. Chase, Dr G. Kite, Dr R. Probert

Living Collections: M. Maunder, Dr M. Fay, A. Jackson, M. Sinnott


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