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Theme 5 – Unlocking Our Knowledge

Training and capacity building including developing more effective ways to deliver Herbarium "products" to the community.

Rain Forest Key

Team: Frank Zich, Ashley Field, Chris Quinn (volunteer), Peter Bostock (DSITIA), Jim Croft (CANBR), Siobhan Duffy (CSIRO), Judy West (DSEWPaC).

Background: The “Australian Tropical Rain Forest Plants” (a.k.a. the Rain Forest Key, or RFK) is an interactive multiple-entry identification and information system. A total of 138 characters, covering morphology - habit, bark, leaves, flowers, fruits and seedlings - and some geographic and ecological information ensure reliability and power of the key is high. Illustrated help notes assist with interpretation of characters and plant images help to confirm identification. The latest version, published in 2010, includes 2,553 species of trees, shrubs, vines, herbs, parasites, saprophytes, palms and pandans of northern Australian rain forests. Further developments a fern module (some 300 spp.) and distribution maps for all species.

Savanna Key

Team: Frank Zich, Eda Addicott, Darren Crayn, Paul Williams (volunteer), Ailsa Holland (DSITIA), Kevin Thiele (WA Herbarium), Ian Cowie (NT Herbarium), Donna Lewis (NT Herbarium), Jim Croft (CANBR), Peter Doherty (Atlas of Living Australia).

Background: The Australian tropical savanna biome covers the top one third of the continent. The region is undergoing rapid change, with pressures from rapidly expanding agricultural and resources sectors. However the lack of a comprehensive Flora for most of the biome means that biodiversity surveys and conservation planning are severely hindered. Currently, plant identification resources for the biome are dispersed, in technical literature and therefore difficult to access, and inconsistent in format and taxonomy. Field guides where available are taxonomically incomplete, local in scope, and vary in quality. We aim to produce, over the next 7 years, a comprehensive, authoritative interactive identification key to Australian tropical savanna plants that is free for use over the internet. The product will be similar to the proven ‘Rainforest Key’, which has enjoyed broad stakeholder uptake. Development of a business plan for this project was partly funded by BHP Billiton Cannington Community Fund.