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PLANTCOL - Centralised electronic information system on genetic resources of living plantmaterial. A prototype for woody plants

Research project I2/AE/210 (Research action I2)


Contract I2/AE/210 :

Duration of the contract :

1/10/2003-30/9/2005

Partners :

  • Vereniging van Botanische Tuinen en Arboreta vzw (Coordinator of the project)
  • Arboretum Kalmthout vzw 
  • Universiteit Gent 
  • Arboretum Hof ter Saksen 
  • Arboretum Bokrijk 
  • Kruidtuin Leuven 
  • Stad Antwerpen 
  • Universiteit Gent 
  • Dendrologie Belge asbl 
  • National Botanic Garden of Belgium 
  • Arboretum Lenoir - Charles Snyers d’Attenhoven 

Description :

As a result of a number of international conventions ratified by Belgium, in particular the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, it is mandatory to keep an inventory of sources of plant material, both in situ (in the wild) as well as ex situ (cultivated in collections). As far as in situ is concerned, there is an existing, updated inventory. As regards ex situ collections, no such inventory exists, or certainly not in any consultable form. The extent of collection inventories differs considerably, ranging from card index systems, arithmetical sheets or simple databases through to highly complex electronic data files.

VBTA, an organisation representing Belgian botanical gardens and arboreta, has been developing an electronic data file that can be consulted centrally and which encompasses all collections. This central system is intended to provide a link to international systems via a connection with BeBIF, the Belgian node for the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. The number of participating collections was limited to six and only woody plants included in order to restrict the prototype’s content. In view of the international importance, its use is being planned in various European languages.

The project began by compiling inventories of available systems in the various collections and studying the data structure. A decision was taken as to how the central platform in place at each partner should look. In the case of partners already in possession of a partially computerised data file, programs are being written so that data can be transposed into a platform that is the same for all partners. A decision is being taken as to which fields and data will be inputted within the central data file from the platform in place at each partner. This central data file will not only provide access via the internet for the rest of the outside world, but will also be used so that (during phase two) plant labels can be engraved using a laser-controlled engraving machine at a single central location, with the relevant instructions issued from the individual collections. It will also be used in order to provide documentary support for collections, complete with illustrations, photos and the like. During phase two, data will also be linked to a GIS system designed to make controls within collections as easy as possible and also to allow the development of on-site teaching programmes using touch screens.

This project is focussing especially on the quality of the stored data. A specialist employee is visiting all collections and either checking the proper identification of plants or ensuring that there is full identification and control.

During phase one, 25,000 data sets should be consultable on a limited basis after 15 months. After 24 months, it should be possible for the system to be released in the various language versions. Any anomalies when compiling inventories and encoding them must be removed. The GIS system and touch-screen technology should be tested by one of the partners.

During phase two, new partners will be added and the quality of the information augmented with photos of living material, herbarium material, publications and so forth. The central data bank will be extended using biodiversity data from the wild and data from non-woody plants. It should be possible for the laser-engraving labels to be produced from the central data file. The GIS system’s introduction, along with that of the enquiries system for the general public, will be implemented within the various partners.

This IT development should produce a different approach to IT and serve as an example for other (often international) projects. Not only will specialist audiences (research bodies and the like) be targeted, but also the general public, gardening colleges, socio cultural associations, and professional circles made up of garden designers and landscape architects.


- Contact person (project's coordinator):

Vereniging van Botanische Tuinen en Arboreta vzw
Joannes Rammeloo
Nieuwelaan 38
1860 MEISE
Tel : 02 260 09 28
Fax : 02 260 09 45
rammeloo@br.fgov.be

PARTNERSHIP

Coördinator Vereniging van Botanische Tuinen en Arboreta vzw

Partner 1 Arboretum Kalmthout vzw

Partner 2 Universiteit Gent (UG) - Plantentuin

Partner 3 Arboretum Hof ter Saksen

Partner 4 Arboretum Bokrijk

Partner 5 Kruidtuin Leuven

Partner 6 Plantentuin van de Stad Antwerpen

Partner 7 Universiteit Gent (UG)

Partner 8 Dendrologie Belge asbl

Partner 9 National Botanic Garden of Belgium

Partner 10 Arboretum Lenoir / Région Wallonne


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