Unlocking data on plant biodiversity for decision-making in São Tomé and Príncipe

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Thecacoris manniana
Thecacoris manniana collected in São Tomé and Príncipe by Lewis Eduardo. Photo via Missouri Botanical Garden (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

São Tomé and Príncipe (STP) is recognized as one of the most interesting biodiversity hotspots in the Gulf of Guinea, with a large percentage of endemisms. The need to conserve tropical STP ecosystems led to the creation of the Obô National Park, which occupies 30 per cent of the island of São Tomé and 50 per cent of the island of Príncipe, which was classified as a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2012.

Despite these environmental safeguard mechanisms, as far as plants are concerned, and historically, the study and knowledge of STP plant diversity has always been done intermittently and with little systematization.

The project will be coordinated by STP Agricultural and Technological Research Center, that hosts the National Herbarium (STPH), in collaboration with Forests and Biodiversity Directorate, and the University of Coimbra (Portugal).

The main objective of this project is to make the existing botanical information on STP available, creating the online Catalogue of the herbarium specimens, and updating the checklists of key flora species and develop distribution maps of threatened, endemic and rare species from STP.

The ~5,000 specimens available in STPH and ~2,500 specimens in COI will be analysed, and subsequently, high quality digital images of each specimen will be obtained; the specimens will be databased using the software SPECIFY, and locality will be georeferenced for distribution map production.

Capacity development will be another focus of this project, enhancing the skills of STPH in data mobilization, processing, management and publishing, as well as specimen identification, digitization and geo-referencing.

Finally, the project will catalyze the process of São Tomé and Príncipe becoming a GBIF participant, witch will have important implications for the management and conservation of the country's biodiversity.

Project progress

A project inception meeting was held in June 2021 where partners met and discussed the chronogram and modalities for achieving the set goals for the project.

At National Herbarium of S. Tomé e Príncipe (STPH) work began with herbarium specimens mounted, computerized and introduced in the Specify program of STPH, which led to publishing the first data set of 404 occurrences through GBIF.

All data relating to the specimens of Flora de STP, which were worked on at the COI by the 3 São Tomé interns were also published. This is a set of 2,547 herbarium specimens from STP flora, published by COI in April 2022 through GBIF.

In October 2022, 858 occurrences from the STPH collections were mounted, labelled, digitized and published.

There is an intention for organizing a workshop in February/March 2023, on data publishing, with 2 specialists from COI, in order to strengthen the capacities of all the team members in this theme.

The project Results are being communicated through the University of Coimbra website and social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. The project results are as well published on the website of the STPH.

The project team has successfully managed to complete most of the planned activities. More than 6000 herbarium specimens have been digitized. 2 occurrences datasets held by National Herbarium of S. Tomé e Príncipe: 2.008 occurrences (STPH herbarium species dataset) + 1162 occurrences (48 events dataset) and participated in the digitized and publishing of 3.088 preserved specimens (COI) into GBIF data portal.

The team is aware that, after the end of the project, it will continue to work to achieve the objective of being able to organize the entire STPH
collection, and for that, it will use the methodologies learned and perfected throughout this project, and which are a precious tool to ensure careful
and quality work.

€ {{ 14680 | localNumber }}
€ {{ 5715 | localNumber }}
Type of grant
Institution-level biodiversity data mobilization grant
1 April 2021 - 31 March 2023
Project identifier
Funded by
  • Herbário Nacional de S. Tomé e Principe
  • Direcção de Florestas e Biodiversidade
  • Herbario da Universidade de Coimbra - COI
  • Centre of Functional Ecology
Contact details

Maria do Céu Madureira
Centre of Functional Ecology, Department of Life Sciences
University of Coimbra

€ {{ 14680 | localNumber}}