3 December 2020

Launch of the Tropical Important Plant Areas Explorer

The TIPAs portal makes vital data on plant species and habitats accessible to all.

By Kew Science News

Benna plateau surrounded by fog

A new data portal launched this week will help protect vital plant diversity and habitats from disappearing in the tropics. 

The Tropical Important Plant Areas (TIPAs) Explorer is a user-friendly tool aimed at researchers, conservationists, and policy makers worldwide and allows users to search and download detailed information on sites, designated as TIPAs, that are globally important for plants and habitats.

The tool shows how species are distributed, along with the threats faced and the levels of protection.

The data within the platform has been generated from Kew’s Tropical Important Plant Areas programme which, with the help of in-country partners, identifies areas where rare, threatened and/or socio-economically important plant species and their habitats should be conserved, enabling national authorities to prioritise their protection.

Iain Darbyshire, TIPAs programme leader, said

"The wellbeing of the world and of mankind is dependent on plants, yet as many as two in five plant species are facing extinction globally. It is vital, therefore, that we effectively prioritise our conservation efforts to allow plant diversity to recover and thrive, with all the associated societal benefits that this can bring. The TIPAs programme is a major contribution to this global effort, and the launch of the Explorer will enable us to share invaluable information on plant resources in the tropics so that they can be protected and effectively managed for future generations”.

Sites are identified using the Important Plant Area criteria established by Plantlife International, and recently revised by an international consortium led by Plantlife and Kew, and include the presence of:

  • threatened species
  • exceptional botanical richness
  • threatened habitats

In the first phase of the programme, Important Plant Areas are being identified and documented in eight countries or regions in the tropics:

  • Bolivia
  • Cameroon
  • Caribbean UK Overseas Territories (including the British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands)
  • Guinea
  • Ethiopia (pilot project)
  • Indonesian New Guinea
  • Mozambique
  • Uganda

The tool has been launched initially with data for Guinea, from where 22 TIPA sites have been documented, but data for other countries will be added in due course.

Over 100 TIPA sites have now been drafted and will be added to the Explorer once they have been verified in the forthcoming months.

Access the TIPAs Explorer


The plateau is covered in rinforest

Tropical Important Plant Areas

Identifying sites in the tropics that are the most important for plants.

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