REFLORA Programme

The study of the Brazilian Flora, recognized as the richest in the world (Forzza et al. 2012), has a long history. During the XVIII and XIX centuries, European naturalists, visiting or residing in Brazil, and also a few Brazilian botanists, collected plant specimens and sent them to herbaria in Europe. The main objective during that period was to study the plants and their potential uses. A large part of the collections was the base for the description of new taxa (nomenclatural types), or formed a large set of samples that were used to describe over 22 thousand species of the Flora brasiliensis (Martius, Eichler & Urban 1840 –1906).

The Brazilian Government has created the REFLORA/CNPq Programme with the objective to rescue and make available images and information regarding Brazilian plants collected between XVII, XIX and the beginning of the XX century housed chiefly in European herbaria through an on-line facility, the Reflora Virtual Herbarium. Initial partnerships were established with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K) and the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle (P) . The Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden (JBRJ) hosts the physical structure of the Reflora Virtual Herbarium, and is responsible for receiving the repatriated images, transcribing the data associated to the samples and managing the access to the information. Thus, images and data originated from the repatriation process (Kew and Paris), together with images and data from the herbarium of the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden (RB) are made available to the scientific community and general public.

Both the new system for the List of Species of the Brazilian Flora and the Reflora Virtual Herbarium integrate the Reflora Programme. The Brazilian List is used as a baseline dictionary of names for the specimens housed in the Reflora Virtual Herbarium. The information regarding these specimens will continue to be improved and updated by a network of taxonomists working online.

We believe that the work platforms provided by the Reflora Virtual Herbarium and the List of Species of the Brazilian Flora will become fundamental tools for Brazil to meet the first target of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation for 2020, the preparation of the Flora of Brazil online. To reach its objective, this large programme involves different funding bodies from the Brazilian federal (CNPq, MCTI/FNDCT e MEC/CAPES) as well as state government (FAP's) and counts with the support from the private sector.


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