Biodiversity data about which plants occur in an area, their correct names and classification, what they look like, their distribution, uses and means to identify them are fundamental to biosciences, conservation, sustainable use and Earth System scientists working on living ecosystems.
Floristic research necessitates a long term approach; building up reference materials (herbarium and literature), collaborations, political understanding and influence. In addition, taxonomic research requires expert analysis of nomenclature, classification, herbarium specimens, literature, geography and field sampling methods.
RBGE has for a long history of working from SW Asia through the Himalayan region and into China, and this area forms the strategic focus of the Major Floras programme with particular emphasis on the Flora of Nepal and the Flora of Arabia, which is now being managed within the newly developed Centre for Middle Eastern Plants. RBGE staff also contribute to other major flora projects. An additional major focus of research is the Herbarium and Archive Collections of India.
The aims of the major floras programme are:
1. To undertake floristic, conservation-focused plant biodiversity research in botanically important regions in Asia.
2. To disseminate high-quality taxonomic data in the form of:
- Correct names
- Identification tools
3. To develop Biodiversity Informatics solutions for recording, managing and publishing taxonomic data.