Taxonomy, biodiversity and sustainable use

A major constraint to implementation within the region is the inadequate knowledge and information on plant biodiversity. The project responds to this identified need by focusing on the provision of three types of primary data- information on taxonomy, biodiversity status and usage.

Taxonomic information

An electronic list of all known plant species is vital information for end-users composed of governments to local communities. This knowledge often tends to be inaccessible to local communities conservation practitioners, policy makers and the general public.

The project seeks to meet Target 1 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC), by creating a widely accessible and agreed database of all known plant species in the region. This will enable Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to meet Target 1, build capacity for the remaining targets, and contribute to other similar initiatives. A key output of the project will be an updated electronic version of the list of East African Plants (LEAP)

Biodiversity status information

Not only is Red Listing information incomplete but a comprehensive and easily accessible source of biodiversity status information does not exist. Only a small proportion of known plant species have been evaluated to date in this region, primarily those of the East African Arc Mountains in Kenya and Tanzania

Target 2 of the GSPC aims to undertake a preliminary assessment of the conservation status of all known plant species at national, regional and international levels. The project will contribute to the efforts of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to meet Target 2 and build capacity for the remaining targets by establishing a joint Red List of threatened plant species.

By providing information of which plant species are threatened with extinction, it will form the basis of monitoring and assessing plant biodiversity and prioritising conservation programmes. The information will also feed into the IUCN Global Red List of Threatened Species enabling worldwide monitoring and assessment and a greater understanding of biodiversity issues.

Sustainable use information

In addition to understanding the plant diversity present in the region and its status, it is also essential to document plant species vital to local communitiesí well-being. It is vital that this information is fully documented, so that conservation and sustainable utilisation programmes can be implemented effectively and efficiently.

In a region where approximately 80% of the populations rely on plants and plant-based products for their primary healthcare needs, it is essential that threatened plants be identified so that management plans can be developed to ensure on-going access to important resources.

The project focuses on building capacity at institutional and national level to consolidate, update and validate exisiting datasets on medicinal plants. Although the JRS project will focus on medicinal plants, it will establish the infrastructure and build capacity for future initiatives aimed at developing and compiling information on other usage categories.

Overall, the project aims to build capacity for Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to implement a range of GSPC targets including 3, 9, 11, 12 and 13, and contribute to other initiatives.