UK Darwin Initiative Papuan Plant Diversity - COMPLETED 2006
The Herbarium at the Biodiversity Study Centre (PPKH), Universitas Papua Negeri (UniPa), Manokwari, is the only plant diversity reference collection in the Indonesian province of Papua, one of the least studied and most diverse areas of the humid tropics. At the start of the project its collections were in need of rehabilitation, which was made more urgent by the island's under-researched biodiversity. Papua remains one of the botanically least-known areas of the world and its plant diversity is very incompletely catalogued, with estimates of the number of vascular plant species ranging from 13,000 to 20,000.
The project (2001-2004) aimed to safeguard the Manokwari herbarium and increase self-sufficiency by establishing a cadre of highly-motivated botanists trained to develop the collections and conduct independent research on native plant diversity and conservation. In the context of Indonesia's increasing provincial autonomy from within and decreasing security from without, the project intended to empower the people of Papua to take a lead in determining the future of the plant diversity of their home province. Key outputs included: installation of essential physical assets in Manokwari; establishment of an herbarium database; new herbarium management skills in Manokwari (herbarium techniques course run in situ by Kew staff, with additional training during longer-term interactions); five study visits to Kew and one postgraduate qualification for Manokwari staff; and 19 publications including an interactive key to families of Malesian seed plants and an innovative field guide to the Palms of New Guinea in English and Indonesian. The project benefited from considerable synergy with the Palms of New Guinea project.