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Flora of the Philippines


Category: Articles
Date Posted: 2005-12-29


What is a Flora?

This is a comprehensive reference dealing about plant diversity of a country or locality. It provides the names of plants, detailed description, and other important information about plants. It also provides a means to readily identify and recognize the species in the field, gardens and at home. Without such book it is almost impossible to give names and understand the nature of plants around us.

Most countries of the world have published accounts of their native plants. Among the popular references in Asia and nearby regions are Flora of Java, Flora of Malay Peninsula, Tree Flora of Sabah and Sarawak Flora of Taiwan, Flora of Japan, etc. Because of these books it is much easier to know the plant diversity in these countries and make sound decisions for conservation and environmental protection.

The Philippines lags behind its neighboring countries for up to now it has no published Flora of its own. This information vacuum has serious effect to biodiversity conservation and management and to the advancement of science.

How Rich is the flora of the Philippines?

The Philippines harbors about 8,000+species of flowering plants distributed in about 1,600 genera and 191 families. There are more than 6,490 species of non-flowering plants (i.e. algae, fungi, mosses, ferns, etc.) and combined with vascular plants the total number of plants is about 14,490+species! Of this number, between 30 to 40% are said to be endemic to the country and nowhere else found.

Conservation Status of the Philippine Flora

The biodiversity of the Philippines is truly impressive in global terms. This is certainly true of overall diversity, but especially so as regards endemism. In absolute numbers, its endemic species in groups like plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, butterflies are comparable to and often exceed the much larger megadiversity countries.

Due to man?s activities, the primary forests of the Philippines are now badly damaged that conservationists rank the country as one of the 10 hotspots of the world. Because of this, the public and private sectors have joined hands in seeking remedy to this environmental crisis.

But conservation cannot proceed without a thorough understanding of the components of the ecosystems that are being preserved. Floristic inventory is requisite to conservation particularly in the tropical forests where as yet many threatened species remain undescribed.

Value of the Flora of the Philippines

The Flora of the Philippines will serve as the ultimate reference that will enable people to understand plant diversity of the Philippines. It is an essential tool and source of information for practical applications in the fields of:

Forestry Biodiversity Assessment
Protected Area Management
Ecology
Land-use Planning
Eco-tourism Environment Protected and Conservation Horticulture
Agriculture
Plant Screening for Medicinal Compounds
Anthropology
Botanical Science

Organizations, Conventions, Institutions Indorsing the Flora Project

The Flora of the Philippines Project has been identified as a priority project and indorsed for support by various government and private institutions in the Philippines, national and international organizations and scientific bodies here and abroad. Among them are the following:

Darwin Declaration, Conference of World Experts on Taxonomy and Systematic. 1998. Australia.
Conference of Parties IV, UN Convention on Biodiversity. 1998. Bratislava, Yugoslavia
International Conference on Taxonomy and Monitoring for Biodiversity Conservation in East Asia. 1997. Seoul, Korea.
National Biodiversity Assessment and Action Plan for the Philippines. 1997. DENR, Manila
Philippine Agenda 21- National Agenda for Sustainable Development for the 21st Century. 1997. PCSD, Manila.
RAWOO Dutch Government Report of a Mission, Initiatives Toward Establishment of a Collaborative Biodiversity Research Programme with the Philippines. 1997
Philippine Environmental Quality Report, 1990-1995.
Environmental Management Bureau, Manila.
International Symposium on Biodiversity and Terrestrial Ecosystems. 1994. Taipei, Taiwan.
U.S AID Report on Conservation and Sustainable Development of Natural Resources of the Philippines. 1991. Manila.

Components and Operation of the Flora Project

The Flora of the Philippines Project is divided into 3 main phases:

Plant Inventory

The first phase involves intensive and extensive collection of plant specimens around the country with priority on botanically rich and critical areas.

Collections Management

The second phase deals with processing of newly collected specimens and backlog specimens at the herbarium and making these available to researches writing the flora.

In producing a Flora of the Philippines we ultimately anticipate a set of 8 volumes. In them will be a systematic account of the Flora. Each taxon will be arranged according to its family, genus and species. Every species will bear the correct scientific name, synonyms, local or vernacular names, description and added information such as distribution, habitat, location, etc. There will be illustrations of representative genera. The conservation status of the plants will also be indicated for management purposes.



Persons behind the project: The FPP is coordinated by Dr. Domingo A. Madulid, Scientist III and head of Philippine National Herbarium, National Museum, Manila. A cadre of expert taxonomists from the Philippines and abroad are contributing to the project by writing certain families and/or genera.

Writing and Documentation

The third phase involves research, documentation, and actual writing of the book.


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