Containing several distinct ecoregions designated as part of a biodiversity hotspot, Western Cameroon is home to numerous endemic and threatened plant and animal species. Although the country has established several protected areas in the region, the process has taken place in the absence of data-driven prioritization analyses due to lack of biodiversity data resources on which to base decision-making.
In this project, a team led by the Tropical Plant Exploration Group (TroPEG) will seek to bolster data mobilization efforts to assemble a representative and comprehensive database of the plants in the region, with which to characterize and document endemism and threatened status. Significant holdings of primary botanical data have so far been held by individual scientists who worked in the region over recent decades, and by institutions that have not facilitated access to data associated with the specimens that they hold. This wealth of information, based on decades of collecting efforts represents a major challenge, as data exists, but is unused in the analysis of western Cameroonian biodiversity.
An example of unaccessible data is the The Limbe Botanical Garden Herbarium (SCA), the only herbarium in the region, with approximately 7,400 high-quality botanical specimens from crucial sites across western Cameroon. Established about 100 years, the herbarium has been out of use by researchers and students for more than a decade.
TroPEG itself, currently the sole institution with concentrated efforts on the plant biodiversity of Western Cameroon holds more than 40,000 data records. This project will concentrate effort on mobilizing this data while providing detailed training to potential students and biodiversity data managers in capturing and improving biodiversity data.