Botanists in need of help says report

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PROPER support needs to be in place for the plant hunters of the future, says a new report.

The study details collaboration between the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) and the Earthwatch Institute, Natural History Museum, Missouri Botanical Garden and Oxford University.

Led by Oxford University, with input from Dr David Harris and Dr Elspeth Haston at RBGE, the report reveals that more than 50 per cent of the world’s plant species have been discovered by just two per cent of collectors. And, while their predecessors were more inclined to collect in the interests of horticultural diversity, today’s botanists are at the vanguard of international conservation.

As such, the study concludes that, support must be available to nurture plant hunters of the future. At RBGE alone, over the last five years, there has been an average of one new species identification per week. Working with partners around the world, the organisation is creating the working model for global conservation.

Dr Harris said: “Species identification is fundamental to understanding biodiversity. Only when a new species has been named can we start to assess whether or not it is endangered.”