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The International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF) collaborated with the National Museum of Natural Science (NMNS) and the Dr. Cecilia Koo Botanic Conservation Center (KBCC) to publish the Field Guide to the Plants of Solomon Islands. This illustrated compendium, which introduces local plants such as lycophytes, ferns, gymnosperms and dicotyledons of the Solomon Islands, is the first of its kind to contain both English and Chinese descriptions. Conservation work and sustainable development in the field of botany in the Solomon Islands have progressed at the same time.
The Solomon Islands, with its abundance of natural resources, is home to an estimated 7,000 or more species of vascular plants. Due to massive deforestation and the cultivation of oil palm, cocoa and other cash crops, however, the coverage of primary forests has gradually declined in recent years. Native species are under threat, and many face extinction. For this reason, Taiwan and the Solomon Islands Ministry of Forestry and Research joined forces to carry out the "Census and Classification of Plant Resources in the Solomon Islands" project in July 2012.
The TaiwanICDF serves as a communication platform for the collaborating organizations with the primary responsibility of integrating their resources and skills for the project. Aided by the knowledge of plant ecology and scientific research capacity of personnel at NMNS and KBCC, the TaiwanICDF dispatches survey teams comprising experts in botany to collect plant resources, build greenhouses, strengthen equipment at the national herbarium, and assist in digital preservation work. Training workshops, instruction on the collection of specimens and demonstration activities also build the capacity of Solomon Islands personnel engaged in the conservation of plant resources and enhance their basic scientific knowledge as part of the increasing emphasis being placed on the protection of biodiversity by the international community.
Four years in the making, the publication of the Field Guide to the Plants of Solomon Islands represents the efforts of the TaiwanICDF, NMNS and KBCC, and also showcases Taiwan's capacity in plant conservation and research. For the Solomon Islands, this compendium will be an important tool for the islanders to learn about their own nation's spectacular floral diversity.