National Land Use Planning Commission

Identifcation Tool for Tanzanian Plant Conservation Areas

Project Details

Grant Amount: $199,375
Contact: William J. Kindeketa
Contact Email: william.kindeketa 'atsign' gmail.com
Funding Dates: 7/1/11 - 10/30/14
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Background

Although the forests of Tanzania were once pristine examples of tropical mega-diversity, they now show the impacts of ever-increasing human activity, such as deforestation, environmental degradation, and biodiversity loss. However, plant diversity has never been a factor in establishing protected areas, partly because of the lack of comprehensive and easily accessible information about the country’s plants. Tanzania’s National Land Use Planning Commission (NLUPC) has helped alleviate this problem by giving planners the tools and biodiversity information to identify high priority plant conservation areas in Tanzania.

Planned Objectives and Activities

  • To develop an online Biodiversity Information Management Tool (BIMT) for storage and dissemination of plant and geospatial data.
  • To mobilize and upload plant occurrence and geospatial data into the BIMT.
  • To map data for identification of areas of high plant diversity values and taxonomic and geographical gaps.
  • To train M.Sc. students through hands-on participation to execute all phases of the project to build capacity for continuance of this effort.
  • To disseminate data and research findings through the online BIMT, publications, and meetings with governmental and organizational stakeholders.
  • To strengthen the capacity of institutional databases through collaborative partnerships by engaging staff from participating institutions in project execution.

Results

The BIMT has been designed to be a user-friendly database to store and disseminate biodiversity information for use by natural resource managers and other stakeholders. The project team successfully assembled a comprehensive set of records on vascular plant biodiversity in Tanzania. The team has populated the BIMT with this vascular plant information. This effort forms the initial building block for the new BIMT. To illustrate how this tool can be used, the team created sample maps indicating areas of high priority for plant conservation and low availability of botanical research data. Participating institutions have agreed to link the tool to their websites, enabling access and use of the information it provides.

Specific Outputs:

  • The team has gathered and organized data for 9, 108 species and 12, 025 taxa of the country’s 10,000 vascular plant species.
  • 107,884 records have been collected from diverse sources, including over 100,000 herbarium specimens and other records held in widely scattered institutions.
  • The team geo-referenced 81,163 of these records.
  • Data in the BIMT are updated to international standards set forth by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).
  • The valuable set of biodiversity information is being published for use by natural resource managers.

Expected Outcomes

  • The BIMT will be used for assessing and identifying gaps in currently available data and for pinpointing areas where plant conservation is urgent.
  • NLUPC will use the BIMT in national and zonal land use planning processes.
  • Maps and information generated will be distributed to other local and national government authorities in order to inform regional, district, and village land use planning decisions.
  • Although the database is currently restricted to vascular plants, its flexible design permits expansion to incorporate all national biodiversity data, facilitating accurate species checklists, conservation status updates and better ecological and climate change modeling.

Primary Software Platforms

Botanical Research and Herbarium Management System (BRAHMS), version 7

Lessons Learned

In the course of the project team learned that by defining the scope of the project to target rare, threatened, and endemic species, the results were unintentionally biased toward particular geographic zones of Tanzania that have high concentrations of such species, leaving gaps in coverage in several other areas of the country. The team also discovered the difficulty in maintaining commitment among graduate student trainees, given the constraints on their time schedules. Finally, the team realized the importance of communicating to stakeholders and users the value of the BIMT and its unique capabilities in comparison to the TanBIF portal.

Related Publications

Gereau, R.E. & W.J. Kindeketa (2014) Botanical inventory of the protected area network in Tanzania: a preliminary gap analysis. Unpublished report: Tanzania Forestry Research Institute.

Notes from JRS

JRS is very pleased to see the results of this effort. We believe that functional and useful data portals can provide incentives for data sharing and may help the development of a robust biodiversity informatics community in Tanzania.  This project combined the best aspects of local ownership and execution with dedicated technical assistance from the Missouri Botanical Garden and adapted to changing choices of software platforms and data hosting.  In 2014, JRS approved the continuation of this project to see the full transfer of the staff, hosting, and activities to the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology.  We hope that COSTECH will prove to be a sustainable home for the BIMT and that the BIMT activity helps to energize efforts of TanBIF.

Last Updated: February 28th, 2017

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