Repatriating Brazil’s plant diversity information and building capacity for greater use through digitisation, dissemination and research visits.
The Reflora programme
Reflora is a programme co-ordinated by the Brazilian National Council for Science & Technology (CNPq). Its overall objective is to make a significant contribution to the scientific and technological development of Brazil by researching, retrieving and using herbarium [and archive] information and making this information available via the authenticated Virtual Herbarium of the Brazilian Flora. Reflora encompasses plant specimens collected in Brazil during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries and deposited in the herbaria of major botanical institutions in Europe and the US. It is designed to extend knowledge, sustainable use and conservation of Brazilian flora, to ascertain the taxonomic identity of all the specimens studied and the status of any nomenclatural type specimens among them, and to build the capacity of Brazilian students and researchers in the taxonomy of Brazilian flora species. This will be critically important for the effective and sustainable capture of economic and social benefit from Brazil’s uniquely diverse flora. In Brazil, the impact of this programme will go beyond the production of high-quality academic research, with benefits for national environmental policy, the economy and management of resources.
Kew’s role in Reflora
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew was the first international partner to be invited to participate in Reflora and has played a key role, with the dual aims of:
- Increasing access to information on Brazilian plant diversity by digitising and databasing Brazilian plant specimens and other materials deposited at Kew.
- Increasing the capacity of Brazilian students and researchers to make use of such collections in their research by hosting study visits to Kew including training and joint research.
The Reflora Virtual Herbarium
A key output of Reflora is the Reflora Virtual Herbarium, which incorporates high resolution images of herbarium specimens captured within the framework of Reflora and links them to a complete Checklist of the Brazilian flora. This combined resource is hosted by the Rio de Janeiro Botanic Garden (JBRJ) and is innovative in the means by which it is being populated: students based at JBRJ transcribe label data from images of Brazilian specimens supplied by RBG Kew and Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, a cost-effective solution which allows each of the partners to play to their strengths while working in close collaboration. It is also innovative in the degree of immediacy with which the data presented in the Virtual Herbarium are made publicly available: a network of more than 500 scientists in Brazil and across the world are interacting with the data on a daily basis and the annotations, updates and corrections that they make to the specimen information are immediately available to anyone consulting the Virtual Herbarium.
- Develop a high quality digital resource to enable Brazil to consolidate and share images and data from plant specimens collected in Brazil and deposited in herbaria worldwide.
- Extend knowledge, sustainable use and conservation of the Brazilian flora.
- Ascertain or confirm the taxonomic identity of all the specimens studied and the status of any nomenclatural type specimens among them.
- Build the capacity of Brazilian students and researchers in the taxonomy of species of the flora of Brazil.
- Support the effective and sustainable capture of economic and social benefit from Brazil’s uniquely diverse flora.
- Images and label data captured for more than 206,500 Brazilian specimens deposited in the Kew Herbarium, with another 60,000 in the pipeline.
- Dissemination of specimen images and transcribed label data and determinations through online web portals including the Reflora Virtual Herbarium, the Kew Herbarium Catalogue and Global Biodiversity Information facility.
- More than 110 Brazil-based students and researchers hosted at Kew within the framework of Reflora for periods ranging from one week to two years from mid-2012 to early 2016.
- More than 102 scientific publications by students and researchers who made study visits to Kew within the framework of Reflora.
- More than 100 species new to science described by students and researchers who made study visits to Kew within the framework of Reflora.
- Natura Cosmeticos S.A.
- Newton Fund
- Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)
- Sistema de Informação sobre a Biodiversidade Brasileira (SiBBr)
- Inventário Florestal Nacional (ifn)
- Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro
- Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq)