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Updating The Belize National Herbarium At The Forest Department


The Belize National Herbarium was developed in 1996 with the purpose of keeping preserved, cataloged and systematically classified records of Belize's extensive flora. The herbarium is basically a reference library of plants that is critical to plant research and the discovery of new species. The Belize National Herbarium is based at the Forest Department(FD) in Belmopan and is overseen by curator, Hector Mai. A collaborative partnership amongst the ERI, the University of Edinburgh, Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh and the FD is now making the re-curation of the herbarium possible. This work is part of a Darwin Initiative funded project on the conservation of the lowland savannas in Belize and is currently being led by the ERI through Darwin Botanist, German Lopez. German has received extensive training in herbarium re-curation in the UK as part of the savanna project.

So what is re-curation? Recuration is a process that involves the reorganization or refiling and data-basing of dried plant collections in the Herbarium after their identification has been properly verified. German is using the Botanical Research and Herbarium Management System (BRAHMS) to catalogue the collections. In addition, he has mounted over 400 specimens and expanded the herbarium by a hundred percent. Mounting refers to the to the arrangement, gluing and sewing of dried plants on acid free paper in order to preserve them for decades to come. The ERI is hoping to soon engage and train UB students to help mount collections in the backlog. When German's work is done, the ERI hopes to work on publishing the first complete database of the herbarium online through our website.

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