By HAGABIMANA Eugene on 31 Aug 2020
Rwanda National Herbarium says that is under a project of upgrading and digitalizing of 67 thousands plant specimens so as to conserve them due to they are some which are in extinction worldwide.
The National Herbarium of Rwanda is hosted by the University of Rwanda – Centre of Excellence in Biodiversity and natural resource management (UR-CoEB). It holds 18,000 unique and historical botanical specimens that were collected in various ecological zones of Rwanda and surrounding areas of Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania since colonial time until now ; the oldest specimen being from 1915. A part from existing physical collection, 53,000 specimens’ data were recently repatriated from worldwide herbaria.
Besides providing field data information on species distribution, ecosystems and landscape rehabilitation, the National Herbarium has also played a valuable tool for bioprospecting, trees-sites matching, ecological suitability, vegetation mapping, biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation.
Since its creation, the NHR provided technical support in education, research in various fields including systematics, ethnobotany, pharmacy, chemistry, natural products and paleobotany ; ecosystems management, rehabilitation and decision making.
According to Minani Vedaste and Umazekabiri Raymond, the Coordinator and Herbarium Assistant respectively, the Centre of Excellence initiated a project to revitalize the National Herbarium of Rwanda by making data available in a computerized data management system. “An open, accessible and globally standardized web portal is being created in order to bring together scattered data on Rwandan flora. Created Herbaria datasets will mobilize high quality biodiversity data from the region to fill taxonomic gaps in a freely accessible standardized data format. This will address the critical need to expand data availability worldwide, enable more research and support evidence-based decision making”.
They added that the project will provide opportunity to develop partnerships among institutions operating in the same field, Conduct gap analysis with available data, discuss research priorities and decide suitable conservation measures.
Story by TWAGIRIMANA Jean Claude
Edited by HAGABIMANA Eugene