Wednesday, 17 October 2012

COP 11 biological diversity: The world has four lakh plant species - World Flora Onlline project of Convention on Biological Diversity

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: The world has a little over four-lakh plant species
and the data will soon be available at the click of mouse. The
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has decided to come out with
“World Flora Online” providing even the minutest details of all the
plants existing on the earth. The mega project, whose progress is
being discussed at the ongoing 11th Conference of Parties (COP), will
be ready in about eight years.

Identification of plants is important, as many of them are known by
different technical names. A couple of years ago as many as six-lakh
plant species were deleted from the world of botany. The current
exercise will further prune the dictionary of life and list the exact
number of plants on the earth.

The world For a Online is the world's largest ever inventory of
plants. The list of about four lakh plant species will be kept online
for the benefit of researchers and common people. The project gains
significance as about one lakh plant species are on the verge of
extinction, and it will help governments and naturalists to conserve
these endangered flora. India with its mega-diversity will benefit
from the World Flora Online project as it has hundreds of native plant
species with great economic and medicinal importance.

When completed it will be the first modern online catalog of the
world’s plants.
“We see the World Flora Online as a critical resource for the direct
conservation of plants by providing the information necessary to
provide a baseline on the plant diversity of each region or country,
as well as to identify the organisms under study effectively, evaluate
their distributions, and help improve both regional and global
estimates of status of threatened or endangered taxa,” points out a
document brought out by the CBD for debate at COP 11.

Although it will primarily provide a global overview of the diversity
of plant species on the planet, the World Flora Online will become an
essential tool for conservation planners, policy makers and
practitioners at all levels. For example, countries without a national
Flora, or without a recent one, will benefit from being able to draw
upon the floristic treatments that will be included in the World Flora
Online.

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