Meet the team
Meet the people behind the IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants project and find out why they believe this work is so important for the future of plants and us.
Plant Conservation Analyst and lead, IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants at Kew
Steve is responsible for carrying out conservation assessments using IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. The conservation assessments that Steve produces are used in the collection guides to help prioritise seed collection of endangered plant species and groups.
Speaking about his role in this project, Steve said “Present day human activities are pushing more plants towards extinction, but if the world’s governments take the right steps at the UN biodiversity meeting in October, we do have the potential to safeguard plant life and the creatures that depend on it. Plants underpin many ecosystems and the loss of key species could cause the system to collapse like a house of cards.”
Dr. Neil Brummitt
Formerly Plant Diversity Analyst and co-ordinator of the IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants at Kew and now Researcher in Botanical Diversity and lead on the IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants at the Natural History Museum.
Talking about this project Neil said "The diversity of plants underpins all life on earth, so it is sobering that our own species is threatening the survival of many thousands of plant species."
“The work in this report took us several years to complete and is based on very careful assessments of thousands of species worldwide by hundreds of scientists. For the first time we have reliable data on which types of plants are most threatened, where and why. It would not have been possible without modern developments in computers and satellite imagery: anyone can see the extent of habitat conversion with Google Earth, but our report relates this to the status of individual species all over the world and clearly shows the depth of the biodiversity crisis we face.
“All our efforts will have been worthwhile if the world’s leaders can now be galvanised into taking significant steps towards reducing the current rate of loss of biodiversity. The Biodiversity Summit in Nagoya in October is the time and the place to take these steps. If we are to prevent the planet’s sixth mass extinction then we need to act together, and act quickly – globalisation needs to be ecological as well as economic."
GIS Unit Manager & Project Direction/Supervision, IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants at Kew
Justin manages Kew's Global Information Systems (GIS) Unit and leads the development of the use of GIS at Kew. His work provides a GIS interface for conservation, taxonomy, systematics and phytogeography. Justin is particularly interested in vegetation mapping and area conservation assessments (Kew Key Measure 2d), using remote sensing and GIS techniques to give up-to-date and accurate vegetation mapping and vegetation change (temporally).
Talking about his part in the project, Justin says “Technology is changing the face of conservation and increasingly we have the ability to manage masses of data to inform governments on the impact of human activities on biodiversity."
Dr. Eimear Nic Lughadha
Senior Responsible Owner, IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants at Kew
Speaking about this project and Kew's role Eimear said “This landmark report represents the culmination of a huge amount of work by Kew staff, volunteers and collaborators over several years. It illustrates the unique and critically important role that Kew’s data and expertise have to play in informing policy and guiding practical conservation action on the ground.
“It’s vital that we maintain and update the data set with field observations so that we can monitor trends over time, but it’s equally important that we make it easy for other scientists to adopt a similar approach. The methodology employed by the project is widely applicable and has attracted significant interest for use at national level. But much of the data that would be required is effectively locked up in our Herbarium and an accelerated effort is needed to digitise it and make it widely available to those who need it in order to manage their plant resources effectively.”
Species Conservation Assessor, IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants at Kew
Sara has been working as part of the Sampled Red List Index for Plants project for the past three and a half years, starting with an intership in 2007, and then progressing to Species Conservation Assessor. In her current role she carries out species conservation status assessments based on herbarium specimen records, literature research and GIS analysis finalized to compiling information on the distribution, ecology, threats, uses and to understanding the current conservation status of plant species.
Because many plants are discovered each year and many were only described hundreds of years ago, it is sometimes quite difficult to have a good idea of the conservation status of species for which there is no up to date data and in these cases she relies on expert opinions and feedback. “I think the SRLI project is very important because it can show us how we are doing with the natural world and it can help us to prioritise research that can guide conservation efforts.”
Species Conservation Assessor, IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants at Kew
Florence has been working as part of the Sampled Red List Index for Plants for the past three years, starting with an internship in 2007, and then progressing to Species Conservation Assessor, in 2008. In her current role she carries out species conservation status assessments based on herbarium specimen records, literature research and GIS analysis finalized to compiling information on the distribution, ecology, threats, used and to understanding the current conservation status of plant species. Florence is passionate about plants and their diversity.
About the project Florence says: “Working on the SRLI for plants is a fascinating experience, which requires extensive research of botanical records and other data in herbaria and botanical literature as well as consulting of expert opinion. The RBG Kew, with its impressive library, herbarium collection and staff expertise provides an ideal place to gather these data. The ‘ground truthing’ of the current distribution of the assessed plant species, as well as their long term monitoring, will be an important step to insure the validity of this index as an indicator of the conservation status of plant biodiversity. Indeed, many botanical records used in the assessments have been recorded prior to massive changes in land use, across various parts of the world. Sadly for many species, subpopulations oat the localities of these old records, may simply have disappeared and the distrubtion and abundance of some species may be have been greatly reduced”.
Digitization Officer, IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants at Kew
Alice graduated from the University of Hertfordshire with a BSc (hons) degree in Geography in May 2009. In October 2009 she started working on the SRLI project as a research intern and has been employed as a digitisation officer since May 2010. Alice has always been fascinated by the natural world and is particularly passionate about plants.
Alice's role on the Sampled Red List Index for Plants is to digitize and geo-reference herbarium specimens, conduct preliminary conservation assessment using ArcView GIS software, and full desk-based conservation assessments applying the IUCN Red List categories and criteria. Alice has been working predominately on the Legumes of Africa and South and Central America.
Alice says "biodiversity loss threatens the stability of the global population, so it is fundamental that we understand the rate of loss and highlight the species most at risk. It is fantastic to have the opportunity to contribute to a project that is actually helping us to achieve this and will hopefully help influence decision-makers so we can respond to biodiversity loss before it is too late."
Project Co-ordinator, IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants at Kew
Patricia is currently managing and coordinating the work of volunteers and staff in the Sampled Red List Index for Plants project. She is also compiling information on the distribution, uses and threats of plant species from literature sources, digital resources and specimen information to produce full IUCN conservation assessments.
Patricia has worked at Kew in several digitisation projects making all of African Floras published by Kew available online and managing the Latin American Plants Initiative Project to deliver high resolution images of all Kew type specimens for Latin America. Patricia says “Making the information about plants that is locked in our herbaria and libraries widely available is crucial to first measure how threatened are plants and then to highlight where we need to focus further conservation efforts".
Digitization Officer, IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants at Kew
Lucia initially became involve with the Sampled Red List Index for Plants project through an internship in 2009 following her Biology degree and after a few months, obtained a post as digitizer for the project. Lucia's role within the project involves digitising a diverse range of information located in the Herbarium in Kew, in other online Herbaria and in various publications around the world. This information is then processed through our GIS software to allow us to carry out our conservation assessments following IUCN Red List criteria.
Lucia finds this project very satisfying both personally and professionally as she has always been fascinated by the way plants are able to adapt themselves quickly to different conditions, and how important they are for our own day to day life.
Talking about her role in the project Lucia says "it has allowed me to significantly expand my understanding on plants and specifically herbaria, and better appreciate the extreme pressures humans and our environment is placing on plant life. I now realise that change is needed in order to keep a balance and maintain our resources."
Digitisation Officer, IUCN Sampled Red List Index Project for Plants at Kew
After her MSc in Plant Diversity from Reading university Helen became involved with the project as a research intern from March 2009 to June 2010, before obtaining the post of digitisation officer with the team. The job involves databasing herbarium specimens from Kew, online herbaria and literature, and using Google Earth and Arcview software to map specimen data to give a preliminary conservation assessment. Further research into each species leads to the production of conservation assessments using IUCN criteria. This contributes to the creation of the IUCN Sampled Red List Index. She has worked mainly with the orchids and legume species of South-East Asia.
Helen find plants fascinating and realises that they are a vital component of the biodiversity of the planet. "I think of the balance of life on earth rather like the tower-of-blocks game of Jenga, with plants near the base and us at the top. We can remove some blocks and still be OK, but the more we lose the more unstable everything becomes. It is great to have a chance to make a contribution to our understanding of plants, the threats to them and their conservation needs."
Assistant Herbarium Keeper, Biodiversity Information and Conventions & Line-manager, IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants at Kew
Alan's principal role is to manage the staff of the Biodiversity Information and Conventions section and to seek ways of maximizing the impact of information held within the Herbarium collection on conservation and sustainable use. This includes supervision of a number of teams and liaising with the Secretariat of the CBD on progress on Target 1 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC - a widely accessible list of all known plant species).
Alan also has a strong interest in developing preliminary conservation assessments (Target 2 GSPC) from specimen data. Leading the cross-departmental Lamiaceae team, with his own research centred on African and Asian Labiatae, writing accounts of the family for ‘Flora of Thailand’ and ‘Flora Zambesiaca’. He is also pursuing monographic and phylogenetic research in tribe Ocimeae and has published several multidisciplinary papers on Ocimum (basil).
Professor David Mabberley
Keeper of the Herbarium, Library, Art and Archives at Kew
Professor David Mabberley joined Kew in March 2008 from his role as Director at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens in Seattle, USA. With degrees from both Oxford and Cambridge and 20 years as a Tutorial Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, he has had a distinguished botanical career in academia and is recognised as an eminent botanist, historian and botanical art enthusiast. Since joining Kew he has been the Keeper of the Herbarium, Library, Art and Archives where the Sampled Red List Index for Plants project has been based.
Speaking about Kew's role in this project he said “Kew’s Herbarium, Library, Art and Archives is the leading, international scientific resource on the botanical world and an invaluable asset to all those involved in plant conservation. We are incredibly proud to have played a principal role in reaching this important milestone in understanding the true scale of the threat to plants. In the future, the Sampled Red List Index for Plants will enable all of us to accelerate progress towards the important 2020 biodiversity target. Humanity cannot afford to lose a quarter of the world’s plants and so we must act quickly.”
Full team - Sampled Red List Index for plants
Sara Albuquerque, Elina Aletrari, Kei Andrews, Guy Atchison, Elisabeth Baloch, Barbara Barlozzini, Alex Bell, Raffaele Boccardo, Alice Brunazzi, Julia Carretero, Marco Celesti, Helen Chadburn, Edoardo Cianfoni, Chris Cockel, Vanessa Coldwell, Benedetta Concetti, Sara Contu, Vicki Crook, Farida Danmeri, Anna Dennis, Aisling Devine, Philippa Dyson, Poppy Fraser, Lauren Gardiner, Nadia Ghanim, Hannah Greene, Alice Groom, Ruth Harker, Della Hopkins, Suzanne Jenkins, Helen Lockwood, Christine Loftus, Debora Lombrici, Lucia Lopez, Patricia Malcolm-Tompkins, Cliodhna McCartney, Kirsty McGregor, Laura Moreno, Keara Nazar, Mireya Quiton, Florence Romand-Monnier, Rosalind Salter, Will Saunders, Robert Segrott, Hannah Thacker, Leighton Thomas, Sarah Tingvoll, Barbara Turpin, Gemma Watkinson and Katerina Wojtaszekova.
We'd like to extend a special thanks to the following colleagues without whom this project would not have been so successful:
Jonathan Baillie, Monika Bohm and Ben Collen (ZSL), Craig Hilton Taylor (IUCN), Aljos Farjon (IUCN Conifer Specialist Group), John Donaldson (IUCN Cycad Specialist Group), Mark Hughes and Stuart Lindsay (Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh), Bob Magill (Missouri Botanical Garden), Tom Meagher (University of St. Andrews) and to the many experts at Kew, NHM and around the world who contributed their taxonomic or regional expertise to the assessments.
The Sampled Red List Index for Plants project was designed and undertaken as a contribution to work of: The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its Global Strategy for Plant Conservation; the Global Partnership for Plant Conservation; the Consortium of Scientific Partners to the CBD; the IUCN and its Red List; and the 2010 Biodiversity Indicators Partnership.
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