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.
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.