The sixteen UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) are former British colonies that have retained their British citizenship and remain part of the United Kingdom. Most of them are islands or groups of islands distributed across the world's oceans. Occupying many different climatic zones from tropical through temperate to Antarctic, they support considerably more unique plants and habitats than the whole of the UK mainland. Many of the UKOTs' natural habitats are under intense pressure, largely as a result of unsustainable land-use and uncontrolled development causing fragmentation, modification or degradation. Increasing threats come from climate shifts, leading to rising sea levels and severe weather events, and from invasive plants, animals and microbes.To help address these conservation issues, Kew's UKOTs team is bringing together the conservation expertise and botanical resources of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and other worldwide Herbaria, as well as those of governmental and non-governmental organizations within the UKOTs.
The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) recognizes the pressing need to understand and document plant diversity around the world to provide a firm foundation for its effective conservation. Target 1 of the GSPC is 'An online flora of all known plants', with Target 2 being 'An assessment of the conservation status of all known plant species, as far as possible, to guide conservation action'.
To assist in the compilation of the plant species lists and conservation assessments needed to meet GSPC Targets 1 and 2, the UKOTs Online Herbarium is assembling existing information on the plants of the UKOTs into a central database. This includes digitisation of historic UKOTs plant specimens from Kew's Herbarium and all incoming field collections and observations from the UKOTs.
The UKOTs Online Herbarium provides internet-based access to a virtual herbarium which, in the first instance, comprises digitized geo-referenced herbarium specimens from Kew's collection together with associated data, field images and key botanical literature. All species names are based on internationally accepted taxonomy, and changes in taxonomy and conservation status are incorporated regularly to ensure that the database remains current.
The UKOTs Online Herbarium is delivering on the three strategic priorities of Kew's Science Strategy.
The initial project to establish the UKOTs Online Herbarium "Achieving GSPC Target 1: the UKOTS on-line Herbarium" was funded by the former Overseas Territories Environment Programme (OTEP), a jointly run programme by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for International Development (DfID).
Please use the links below to see further details on conservation activities in the UK Overseas Territories.