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Moving forward to the Flora of Brazil Online
Iliyana Kuzmova

Eduardo Dalcin [1]

In order to attend to Target 1 of the Global Strategy for plant Conservation (GSPC), adopted by the parties in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CDB) of 2002, a Brazilian initiative coordinated by the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden (Rio BG) began in late 2008. The purpose of this initiative was to assemble and review the existing data on Brazilian plants, algae and fungi, and to deliver a complete list of known species by 2010. [2]

The Rio BG and Centro de Referência em Informação Ambiental (CRIA) developed a database and a web interface to support the project. The compiled data were reviewed and refined online by a network of 413 taxonomists during 2009. This remarkably comprehensive and rapid collaboration was made possible only through advances in information and communication technology as well as the increased page load speed. The increase of the speed of the website has allowed many people to work remotely and simultaneously. Finally, the list was released online in May 2010 and was published in The Brazilian Catalogue of Plants and Fungi. The resulting list that documented 40,989 species of Brazilian algae, land plants, and fungi, of which 18,932 (46.2%) are endemic to the country. [3]

In 2010, the Rio BG received a new mission from the National Research Council (CNPq) to build up a "Virtual Herbarium of Repatriated Plants" (VHRP) - The REFLORA Program. The Brazilian government signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (RBGk) and the National Museum of Natural History, Paris (MNHN) in order to make possible the "repatriation" of the high resolution digital images of the herbarium vouchers of Brazilian plants collected in Brazilian territory that are kept in their collections.

The VHRP and National Plants Checklist; other initiatives, such as National Endangered Plants Assessment (also coordinated by the Rio BG and the National Center of Flora Conservation (CNC Flora)) and a new GSPC Target for 2020 - "World Flora Online"  led to a necessity of a new information system architecture, integrating all the related systems around a taxonomic and nomenclatural backbone. Thus, in a partnership with the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro / Systems Engineering and Computing Program (PESC/ COPPE/ UFRJ), in 2010, the Rio BG starts to develop a new institutional scientific information system, integrating all related initiatives of scientific collections, references, images and maps. The new version of the "List of Species of the Brazilian Flora" (part of this integrated system), was launched in February 2013. It was well received by the scientific community.

At the end of year 2013, the VHRP will be launched. This project will link vouchers from RBGK, MNHN and Rio BG, promoting the digital environment in which taxonomists and experts can discuss the material that is available, suggest names, point out duplicates and improve data quality.

In the period between 2014 and 2017, the Rio BG is planning to integrate the CNC Flora’s information system and also start the evolution of the "List of Species of the Brazilian Flora" system toward the "Flora of Brazil Online".

Considering all the activities and responsibilities of biodiversity information management in Brazil, I was invited to attend the pro-iBiosphere meetings in Berlin (21 - 23 May 2013). This meeting provided me an excellent opportunity to be in touch with leading institutions and researchers from Europe and abroad and share experiences and approaches related to the management of biodiversity information. I have learned new information and made valuable contacts.


[1] Coordinator of the Scientific Computing Center at the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden - Brazil

[2] Forzza, Rafaela C., et al. 2012. New Brazilian floristic list highlights conservation challenges. BioScience 62.1: 39-45.

[3] Ibid; The list was published in Forzza, Rafaela C. 2010. Catálogo de plantas e fungos do Brasil. Vol. 1. Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeir

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No 312848