Universidad Nacional de Colombia (2011)

Flora of Colombia Online

Project Details

Grant Amount: $197,778
Contact: Lauren Raz
Contact Email: lraz 'atsign' unal.edu.co
Funding Dates: 8/1/11 - 12/31/13

UPDATE: JRS awarded follow-up grant to continue the work of the project. Please click here to view. 


Although the floral diversity of Colombia is among the richest in the world, with around 25,400 species, approximately a quarter of them endemic, there is no comprehensive source of authoritative taxonomic information about Colombian plants.

Key Objectives and Activities

The Natural Science Institute (ICN) at Colombia’s National University has implemented three major projects designed to fill that gap: (1) The Virtual Herbarium, presenting Colombia’s National Herbarium as a website with more than 350,000 specimen records, many of them geo-referenced, and 250,000 digital photographs; (2) The Catalog of Colombian Plants, a detailed checklist featuring contributions from more than 180 specialists worldwide; and (3) Plants of Colombia, currently 25 printed volumes covering 730 species.

Planned Outputs

  • Combine the the Virtual Herbarium, the Catalog of Colombian Plants, and the Plants of Colombia into one web resource.

Planned Outcomes

With support from JRS, ICN is now bringing all that information together into a single, easy-to-access, image-rich and searchable web resource called Flora de Colombia en Linea (Colombian Flora Online).

Results to Date

  • 50,000 new records and images added to the COL virtual herbarium (>30,000 georeferenced)
  • Improved protocols and workflows for specimen digitization and georeferencing
  • Strengthening of the partnership with SIB Colombia to provide leadership and training in biodiversity informatics at the national level
  • Greater recognition and institutional support for our Informatics program
  • Increased production of treatments for the Flora of Colombia series
  • Training of a graduate student in the development of natural language processing algorithms.

Lessons Learned

The grantee recognizes that there is inherent risk in counting on third party funding for activities that are central to the project at hand. The partners did not assess this risk in advance, and ended up losing an important funding opportunity. They have since made new strategic alliances with trustworthy partners in positions of influence in both the University and the government to help  secure matching funds in advance.  Another problem was with the timeline for the Master’s student, whose work is central to one of the project goals.

Notes from JRS

The project is designed for scientists, teachers, students and policy makers who need access to an authoritative source of taxonomic, geographic, morphological and cultural information about Colombian plants.

Last Updated: February 28th, 2017

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