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Workshop on Mapping Asia Plants (MAP): Southeast Asia Plant Database Development Held in Beijing
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On Nov. 28-30, the Workshop on Mapping Asia Plants (MAP): Southeast Asia Plant Database Development was held in Beijing. The workshop was organized by Biodiversity Committee, Chinese Academy of Sciences (BC-CAS), 24 participants from India, Indonesian, Philippines, Vietnam Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and China attended. The co-chairs of Asia Biodiversity Conservation and Database Network (ABCDNet), Prof. Keping Ma, the Secretary General of BC-CAS, and Prof. Ganeshaiah K. N., from University of Agricultural Sciences, GKVK, Bangalore, chaired the workshop.

 

Prof. Ma introduced the background, mission, goals, progress and plans of MAP, and also the efforts in mapping China’s biodiversity, such as catalogue of life-China, digitalization of specimen, occurrence data from observations and literatures. MAP was first proposed and discussed during the 2015 ABCDNet Working Group Meeting. Two pilot projects, the 100 most endangered plants in Asia and Southeast Asia Plant Biodiversity Information Infrastructure (SEADiv), were decided to carry out. The first project was financially supported by BC-CAS and SEADiv was financially supported by Southeast Asia Biodiversity Research Institute, CAS.

 

Dr. Zheping Xu and Dr. Bo Liu introduced the progress of SEADiv, including the collection, digitalization of related plant taxonomy literatures for Southeast Asia. At present, about 120,000 scientific names, 1,310,000 occurrence data, 50,000 literatures have been uploaded to SEADiv. About 470 floras have been collected, and 114 key floras were identified for digitization.

 

Participants from different countries shared the progress of plant biodiversity research in their countries, such as floras or checklists, specimens in herbaria, database developments. They provided valuable references for SEADiv. After discussion, all participants agreed to invite more taxonomists and strengthen the collocation with other existing projects, platforms and experts.

 

Dr. Yuwen Cui, on behalf of Prof. Hongfeng Chen’s team, shared the result for the selection of top 100 most threatened plants in Asia. Participants discussed on the criteria and procedures, and suggested to add distribution of these listed species in Asia countries and compare the result with IUCN Red List.

 

The progress of Dr. Hongfeng Wang’s research on plant biodiversity in North Asia and Northeast Asia was shared and discussed. Dr. Maofang Luo shared her work plan on GBIF species occurrence data in Asia, including the status, challenges and potential sources.

 

During the workshop, participants discussed and agreed on: 1) The nature of the project MAP is of biodiversity informatics rather than plant taxonomy; 2) MAP’s mission is to build a network infrastructure for mapping plant diversity of Asia; 3) Key targets of MAP are working on a plant checklist for Asia, different parts of Asia and different countries of Asia and species distribution databases associated with the checklists, based on existing data; 4) MAP would set up an alliance promoting data sharing among members; 5) Training workshops will be conducted in data mining; 6) The next steps will be mapping plants in South Asia and northern part of Asia.

 

After the workshop, participants visited the Herbarium and the Library of Institute of Botany, CAS, which helped them better understanding of plant biodiversity research and conservation in China.

 

This workshop provided a significant basis for integrating plant checklists and associated distribution information in Southeast Asia for the next step. It was also a start of a regional cooperation on plant biodiversity research, conservation and data collection. Similar workshops will be organized for northern part of Asia early next year.

 

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