Mobilization and use of botanical data as decision-making tools in Gabon

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Floscopa mannii
Floscopa mannii collected in Gabon by Ehoarn Bidault. Photo via Missouri Botanical Garden (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Gabonese biodiversity data are housed in several institutions and their availability is often problematic. To best support decision-makers and data users, data must be reliable and deliverable in appropriate formats. This requires a centralized, effective and easy-to-access database.

In most African countries the few databases that exist are underused. For instance, specimen data are exploited by researchers only when they are planning field trips.

As strategies to transmit relevant information on plant biodiversity to decision-makers are deficient, this project aims to mobilize biodiversity data and categorize them according to their utilization by local populations, their importance in conservation and their commercial use, in order to support their integration into policy and decision-making processes.

Specifically, this project aims to fill data gaps through

  1. Digitalization of herbarium specimens at the National Herbarium of Gabon (LBV). The images of the scanned specimens will be linked and available online in a database that has already been developed during the previous project. We plan to scan about 2000 herbarium specimens.
  2. Categorization of medicinal, cosmetic, endemic and threatened plants using an existing database created during the a previous BID project. Further categorization will improve the database and will greatly accelerate their utilization.
  3. Habitat modeling of commercial timber species for their sustainable management in Gabon. This activity will concern the main commercial timber and threatened species.
  4. Appropriate communication tools about data to decision-makers such as the production of online checklists of medicinal, endemic and cosmetic plants, and writing policy briefs for policy-makers.

Project progress

The first meeting was organized in May 2021 with the staff of local institutions, IRET and ANPN. The objective of this meeting was to launch the activities of the project focused on the following points: Data mobilization; Data digitalization; Data categorization; Niche modelling and Policy briefs for policy makers.

The project has achieved the following objectives:

  • Meeting with members of local institutions to launch and monitor the project activities
  • Data mobilization: For herbarium specimen, 7046 herbarium sheets have been mounted in total and stored in the collection room of the Herbier National du Gabon. Forest inventory data have been mobilized on 182 temporary plots from 0.1 to 0.25
  • Data categorization: About 249 endemic species, 200 medicinal and cosmetic plant species and 134 threatened have been already selected for digitalization. For the type specimens, only 285 are stored in our herbarium among 1700 types recorded in the databases
  • Digitalization of herbarium specimens: 2000 specimens, includingspecimens used for categorization were planned for digitalization. Data categorization activity allowed to scan 668 specimens by AGS company.

The project plan is to publish the project activities in the local journals. The steps have been already undertaken toward the largest Gabonese daily newspaper called "Union". IPHAMETRA-actu is the information journal know in the national scientific research center and project activities will as well be published in this journal.

€ {{ 60000 | localNumber }}
€ {{ 180000 | localNumber }}
Type of grant
Data-use grant
1 April 2021 - 30 April 2023
Project identifier
  • Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux (ANPN)
  • Institut de Recherche en Ecologie Tropicale (IRET)
  • Missouri Botanical Garden
  • Center for Tropical Forest Science, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Contact details

Nestor Engone Obiang
Institut de Pharmacopée et de Médecine Traditionnelle
Sibang 3
1156 Libreville

€ {{ 60000 | localNumber}}