21 September 2011: Flora of Nepal launched in Kathmandu

The first publication of Flora of Nepal was launched amidst a gathering of plant scholars in Kathmandu on 21 September 2011. The first publication is Volume III, describing 600 plant species belonging to 21 families from Magnoliaceae to Rosaceae. Flora of Nepal is a joint venture of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (UK); the Society of Himalayan Botany Tokyo (Japan); the Department of Plant Resources, Government of Nepal and the Central Department of Botany, Tribhuvan University (Nepal); and the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology. Flora of Nepal is testimony to international collaboration in the field of biodiversity exploration. The publication is an authentic scientific account of plant species growing in Nepal, and includes detailed descriptions, representative illustrations, local names, distribution of species, and keys to aid identification of plant species. It provides baseline data and the information needed for environment-based research, climate change modelling, and conservation planning. Himalayan botanists and environmentalists alike have long felt the need for such a publication. The preparation that went into the publishing of the first volume was extensive, involving the establishment of a collaborative atmosphere and agreements among the lead institutions, as well as the capacity building of national contributors, joint botanical explorations in many parts of the country, and the preparation of a detailed scientific account for each species. Several international and Nepali plant scientists took part in this first published volume, Flora of Nepal (Volume III), and now both the plant scientists of Nepal as well as international partners look towards completing the other nine volumes. The next immediate volume to be released will be on the family of orchids, and is the tenth volume: Orchidaceae. However, securing the large-scale funding needed for the accelerated completion of all other volumes of the Flora of Nepal remains vital. The completed Flora of Nepal structure will be an important contribution to the understanding of the flora of the entire pan-Himalayan region, given that a third of the plants in the pan-Himalayan region are found in Nepal. Dr Mark Watson, the Editor-in-Chief from RBGE, provided ICIMOD with a copy of the first publication of the Flora of Nepal. The copy was received by Dr Andrea Schild, Director General of ICIMOD.