Taxonomic training in Lao PDR

'Taxonomic training in a neglected biodiversity hotspot within Lao PDR'; Darwin Initiative Project 163/13/007

Field training in LaosLao People's Democratic Republic is a mountainous, landlocked country about the size of Britain. Over 40% of the primary forest remains but it is under increasing pressure because three quarters of the population of 6.5 million depend directly on natural resources. The floristic diversity of Lao PDR is poorly known. Only a fraction of the total number of species has been recorded.

Beach campThere is a shortage of trained taxonomists in Lao PDR. Between 2004 and 2007 the RBGE, the Forest Research Center of the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute, the Faculty of Science at the National University of Lao PDR and IUCN Lao PDR trained 28 Lao staff in botanical field work and identification. Specimens were collected in Nakai Nam Theun National Protected Area and studied in the herbarium at the National University of Laos.

Engelhardtia spicataOver 1500 specimens were collected. Three new species have been described and a further 16 may be new species; over 150 species have been recorded for the first time in Lao PDR, among them seven conifers. In March 2007 the project published the first Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Lao PDR. More than 4800 species in 232 families are listed. Of these, 3,688 are supported by at least one of the 9,500 specimens recorded in the National Species Database - records for the remaining species are based on reliable literature sources. The database will be made available on-line in the near future. Click on the links below to see the Checklist of the Vascular Plants of the Lao PDR in PDF format.

The project also published the first French-Lao-English botanical glossary and a guide to the botanical resources suitable for the identification of plants in Lao PDR.

For more information, contact Mark Newman and Philip Thomas

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