A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands
This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.
The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.
SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).
PAPGREN coordination and support
Mr William Wigmore
Mr Adelino S. Lorens
Dr Lois Englberger
Mr Apisai Ucuboi
Dr Maurice Wong
Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
Mr Frederick Muller
Mr Herman Francisco
Ms Rosa Kambuou
Ms Laisene Samuelu
Mr Jimi Saelea
Mr Tony Jansen
Mr Finao Pole
Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
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Sunday, May 08, 2005
Posted 4:29 PM by Luigi
Guggenheim Award Supports Ethnobotanical Study of Pohnpei
On May 4, 2005, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation held a reception to honor their new 2005 Guggenheim Fellows. Among the new fellows is Dr Michael J. Balick of The New York Botanical Garden, whose fellowship will support the preparation of a comprehensive manuscript on the ethnobotany of the Micronesian island of Pohnpei.
Working with local ethnobotanists, the Pohnpei Council of Traditional Leaders, The Nature Conservancy, The College of Micronesia, and other international and local groups, Dr Balick has been documenting people’s traditional uses of plants on the island for eight years. This data will be compiled into a complete synthesis of ethnobotanical knowledge of Pohnpei. The Guggenheim award will enable Dr Balick to produce a first draft of this manuscript in 2006, for publication in 2007.
Pohnpei, the highest and second largest of the Caroline Islands in the western Pacific, is part of the Federated States of Micronesia. It is one of the wettest and, until recently, most fully forested of the Caroline Islands. It contains the lowest elevation cloud forest in the world and is rich in rare and endemic species of plants and animals. The diversity of habitats, high rainfall, and deep weathered soils support more than 1,000 species of vascular plants.
Since the first botanist visited in 1822, botanical and ethnobotanical information gathering on Pohnpei has been uncoordinated and sporadic. Today, as in other parts of the world, much of traditional knowledge, including an understanding of biodiversity, and its use and management, is being lost as modern culture spreads around the world.
The book will contain introductory chapters on the botany of the island, agroforestry and food production, traditional forest management practices, traditional healing, ecosystem conservation, and the loss of specific knowledge about plants and their uses. This will be followed by an encyclopedic section on Ponapean flora, with detailed scientific nomenclature, common names, local and regional uses, and color photography. The book is planned to be the most detailed study of the traditional use of plants on any Micronesian island. It will support biodiversity research, conservation, and anthropological studies and be used in public health programs and local teaching. It will also help safeguard the intellectual property interests of the Pohnpei people.
Dr Michael J. Balick is a senior scientist, curator, and research director at The New York Botanical Garden. He is the Philecology Curator and Director of the Botanical Garden’s Institute of Economic Botany and Vice President for Research and Training. He is the author of numerous books and scientific papers in ethnobotany and plant systematics, and serves as an advisor and trustee on the board of a number of organizations dedicated to ethnobotany and herbal medicine. Dr. Balick serves as an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, New York University, Yale University, and City University of New York. Internationally, he has established numerous collaborations between communities, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and institutions in the United States and Europe, all working towards the common theme of discovering plants with potential therapeutic uses and was recently awarded the Award for International Scientific Cooperation by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
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