Progress towards a regional data platform of West and Central African herbaria

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Specimen label for isotype of Bulbophyllum daloaense) collected in Côte d'Ivoire, from Catalogue of type specimens of vascular plants deposited in the Herbarium of the University of Granada, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.

The databasing (label information capture) and digitization (scan) of key African herbaria has been ongoing since the early 2000s. Many collections in Benin, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon and Togo are now fully databased and partially digitized.

Recently, a BID project has allowed to develop a comprehensive platform around Gabon National herbarium, including a user portal, connection to GBIF, and a very detailed set of functionalities for databasing and curating the collection. The platform was then adapted in Congo within SEP2D.

Conditions now seem to be in place to proceed with the various stages: setting up a database management platform, setting up automatic workflow via IPT to continuously feed the LA and GBIF portals with new data or updates, networking of herbaria collections in West and Central Africa by extending the platform to a regional scale.

This regional platform will allow data sharing and promote better coordination between the countries in mobilizing biodiversity information of key interest for decision-making, education and research. Beyond collections, the platform will include further contents: published and grey literature, links to relevant national and international databases, as well as local knowledge, taxa pictures and other illustrations, so as to answer at best the needs expressed by the regional botanists’ associations ABAO and REBAC.

In terms of software, this project will give a concrete example of how a BID project can produce sustainable and reusable tools, and of how BID can apply the FAIR principles.

Following partners will be involved:

  • A first kernel of National herbaria as platform members: Togo HNT (coordinator), Benin HNB, Côte d’Ivoire CNF, Guinea HNG, and Cameroon HNC.
  • Gabon HNGa will share its experience in using the platform at the national scale.
  • PatriNat Unit in Paris Museum, European partner: technical support from GBIF France, and sharing experience in data validation, biodiversity assessment and decision support.

Project progress

The project objective is to establish an IT network of African herbaria and a multimedia information system on West and Central African plant biodiversity. Up to now, the main activities are focused on establishing and strengthening the African Herbaria Network to support long-term data mobilization and data sharing among institutions (25%). Five virtual meetings were conducted between partners and the advisor node.

Documentation on the specifications of the regional platform, updating and validation (correcting inconsistencies) of RIHA data in the partner herbaria are on way (33%) by the technical team committed.

A training workshop is planned for handling the regional platform from 15-29 May 2022.

Key achievements and impact:

  • data mobilized: 168,742 occurrences (instead of 100,000 scheduled)
  • setting up of the regional data mobilization platform: website and data portal with documentation for Benin, Cameroon, Côte-d’Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea, and Togo Herbaria; available on,,
  • the RIHA data management platform is now useable for the administration of herbarium data from each partner country of the project. The same data management environment relies on country-specific databases to ensure their ownership and security
  • the LA Portal which is a replication of the data, for query/display purposes, is installed for the region: the 6 partners and pilot countries enjoy priority from then on
  • a converter is developed from the existing application data model to DwC
  • an automatic workflow, using the converter, to plug the data of the different local installations is installed, and functional.

Post-project activities

  • The management of the platform, the updating of the country collections, direct recording of herbarium specimens
  • the taxonomic and bibliographic repository updating
  • the identification of funding windows for the extension of the project and the platform to other partner countries (Senegal, DRC, and Burkina Faso are already candidates to join the consortium by adding their collections to the platform)
  • the support, maintenance, and upkeep of the platform
  • setting up of the Association called "Consortium des Herbiers d’Afrique Centrale et d’Afrique de l’Ouest" (CHACAO) initiated in Lomé during the regional workshop, for the sustainability of the project's achievements for the benefit of the herbaria in Africa.
€ {{ 120000 | localNumber }}
€ {{ 117258 | localNumber }}
Type of grant
Regional biodiversity data mobilization grant
1 April 2021 - 31 March 2023
Project identifier
Funded by
Project lead
Contact details

Raoufou Pierre Radji
GBIF TOGO, University of Lome
Boulevard Eyadema

1BP1515 Lomé

€ {{ 120000 | localNumber}}