Australia’s Virtual Herbarium Unlocking Australia’s plant biodiversity Information

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Information on plant identity and location is derived from herbarium specimen records. These records are the building blocks for plant taxonomy and classification.

Text of Australia’s Virtual Herbarium Unlocking Australia’s plant biodiversity Information

Australias Virtual Herbarium Unlocking Australias plant biodiversity Information Australias biodiversity is at risk from inappropriate land management practices and historical ignorance of the implications. We know a lot about what not to do, but redressing the damage, and managing better for the future, requires sound information about our biodiversity - what was here, and where it lived. Information on plant identity and location is derived from herbarium specimen records. These records are the building blocks for plant taxonomy and classification. Australias Virtual Herbarium will provide access to the combined information on each individual herbarium specimen in Australias major herbaria. The internet will provide quicker and easier access and use, and wider availability. The AVH is unique and a world first Access is being made progressively available on the Internet. The AVH is a collaborative project of the State, Commonwealth and Territory herbaria. It is being developed under the auspices of the Council of Heads of Australian Herbaria (CHAH), representing the major Australian herbarium collections. Each herbarium retains custodianship and is responsible for management of its own data as part of the national distributed database. Contribution of specimen data by major herbarium Applications and benefits include: easy and quick access to authoritative plant information; mapping geographic distribution of plants; location and mapping of rare and threatened species; historical and baseline information for revegetation programs; assist with selection of suitable and adequate conservation reserves; better informed environmental planning; Potential users include: farmers Landcare groups revegetation groups Greening Australia natural resource managers government agencies local government indigenous communities schools and educational institutions mining industry Case Study 1907 In 1999, the Harden Murrumburrah Landcare Group approached the Australian National Herbarium for help with revegetating their land with the original native plants of the region. With only 2.8 percent of the original native vegetation remaining from widespread landclearing in the Harden Shire, landholders had to largely guess what once grew there. Herbarium records were searched to compile a list of all the plants collected from the Harden region since The records also provided information on soils and associated species. Local landholders and those with specialised knowledge then added to this pool of data, eg how to propagate and where to plant them. This data is available through the web to the Landcare group to plan their revegetation work. A critical first step in building the AVH is to capture and load the information contained in Australias six million herbarium specimens in a standard format within the next five years The databasing task million specimens Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments agreed in 2001 to contribute $7,830,000 on the basis that a further $2,000,000 would be raised from the private sector over the next five years to complete the project. The AVH Trust was established in late 2001 to coordinate the fund raising for this project. This task is calculated to cost $10 million. The AVH Trust is registered and donations are tax-deductible. Environment Australia is acting as the agent for receipt and disbursement of funds, both Commonwealth and private sector, to the individual herbaria on advice and agreement from CHAH. a collaborative national project supported by the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments and involving many of Australias leading scientific institutions; an ethical and green initiative; internationally innovative technology - a world-first; encouraging discovery and understanding of the plant world; unlocking Australias plant biodiversity information for all users Supporting the AVH Trust offers the opportunity to participate in: Private financial supporters will be acknowledged appropriately on the AVH website and in any other promotional or educational material about the AVH. Trustees: Peter Cochrane, Director of National Parks, Environment Australia (Chair) Margaret Ross, Chair John T Reid Charitable Trust Ian Blackburne, Chair Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney Trust Allan Holmes, Chief Executive, Department for Environment and Heritage, South Australia Executive Officer: Helen Halliday, Environment Australia Herbaria associated with the AVH are located in every capital city of Australia.To arrange an inspection to discover more about their relevance to conservation and land management please contact the relevant Director: City Adelaide Brisbane Canberra Darwin Hobart Melbourne Perth Sydney Director Dr Laurie Haegi Dr Gordon Guymer Dr Judy West Dr Greg Leach Dr Gintaras Kantvilas Professor Jim Ross Dr Neville Marchant Dr Tim Entwisle Phone Australias Virtual Herbarium Unlocking Australias plant biodiversity Information