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Record: oai:ARNO:532903

AuthorS.H. Sohmer
TitleBasic concepts for a Flora of the Philippines project
JournalFlora Malesiana Bulletin
AbstractThere has never been a good, comprehensive Flora of the Philippines. It is difficult to understand how an archipelago of such innate phytogeographical significance and with so many, important natural resources has never had a comprehensive published flora other than the incomplete and outdated 3 editions of Fr. Manuel Blanco’s Flora de Filipinos (1837, 1845, 1877-1883). During the first two decades of this century Dr. E.D. Merrill and his associates performed a magnificent job, which might well have led to a Flora had he stayed longer in the Philippines. At this time, the flora of the Philippines is probably the least known of any major tropical country in Southeast Asia. The reasons for this are: (1) the present extent of relatively undisturbed forest ecosystems is probably less than 10% of the forested areas in 1925, (2) present and future population growth will continue the relentless assaults upon what is left of natural ecosystems, (3) the entire collection of what is now the Philippine National Herbarium was totally obliterated at the end of World War II, and (4) there has been little support within the country for active floristic work (other than an emphasis on some field work) and for the people capable of doing such work for the past 20-30 years. Yet, at this time, the need for a decent understanding of what is left of the flora has never been greater, for the support of both conservation activities and resource management planning.
I became increasingly disturbed and alarmed over what I began to perceive as the ‘circularity’ of information regarding the native flora of the Philippines during my periodic visits there over the past 7 years. Information has often been passed from botanist to botanist in the Philippines that, when investigated, turns out to be based upon the work of E.D. Merrill, which culminated in his Enumeration of the Philippine Flowering Plants (1923-26). My own work with the genus Psychotria in the Philippines has shown that of the 113 species treated, over 40% have not been collected since 1925. Many of these are presumed extinct because their habitats have been altered or destroyed. This kind of extinction can probably be extrapolated for the flora as a whole. For these reasons, this proposed flora project is timely.
Document typearticle
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