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Investigators call for digitisation of specimen data

Investigators call for digitisation of specimen data

A group of science investigators have said there is a need for herbarium to digitise its specimen data collections, so as to expand its visibility and reach, The PUNCH reported.

The project team include the Principal Investigator, Dr Temitope Onuminya; Prof. Kehinde Kemabonta, Dr Aramide Igbari, all of the University of Lagos and Kudzai Mafuwe of the University of Zimbabwe, who all spoke at the three-day capacity building workshop on applications of digitised biodiversity data for enhanced policy making in conservation.

The Global Biodiversity Information Facility-Biodiversity Information for Development Project workshop was titled, ‘Expanding the visibility of the Lagos Herbarium through digitisation and mobilisation of plant specimen data.’

The PI, Onuminya, explained that in Nigeria, one of the hindrances to research and conservation practices was access to specimen data, adding that these data were largely kept in repositories or individual archives and were often not fully utilised because they were not readily available.

‘’Consequently, conservation policies for sustainable resources and protection have been developed with limited knowledge on distribution of species across space and time.

Established in 1971, the University of Lagos herbarium is one of the oldest institutional herbaria in Nigeria, located in the Department of Botany, University of Lagos.

Despite its over 40years of existence, none of these specimens are visible online or represented in GBIF records as specimen data are either uncatalogued or in form of handwritten notes in registers. While duplicates from its collections have been shared to other herbaria globally, the herbarium needs to digitise its collections to expand its visibility and reach.’’

Host of the event, UNILAG, Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, explained that the workshop would help to develop a regional assessment of biodiversity within the region and foster improved conservation policies and practices within the region.

He said, ‘‘It is hoped that this present workshop will foster collaborations amongst researchers, students, conservationists, researchers and policymakers as we explore the applications of digitised data in modelling species distribution and accessing the conservation status and extent of occurrence of species with Lagos and Nigeria as a whole.’’

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