BRIT's Program in New Guinea

    BRIT scientists, led by R.J. Johns and in collaboration with staff from national and regional herbaria in New Guinea and Indonesia, worked to document the botanical and ecological diversity as a first step toward better strategies for management and conservation.

    Exploration and collecting were directed to critical areas of the island. The development of the collections database, based on new expeditions and documentation of records from existing collections, used the BRIT database program Atrium as the key component in the data organization. Collected specimens were sent to BRIT, as well as other herbaria.

    The following links provide further information and include maps of the area:

    Papua New Guinea    New Guinea    Melanesia


    Specific activities in New Guinea:

    (1) Documentation of collection data from the records, field notes, and specimens in the National Herbarium at Lae - Johns recorded data from collections at the LAE and NGF (New Guinea Forest) herbaria which will make them more accesible to the general scientific community. Local help was hired to assist in this effort . The data were entered into the BRIT Atrium database.

    (2) Intensive botanical collecting in target areas of Papua and Papua New Guinea - Even supposedly well collected areas have poorly known floras (60percent ofthe plants from 2007 were new generic and species records). The ultramafic and limestone floras of the Milne Bay Archipelago were emphasized; 240 endemic vascular plant species (none in protected areas) were recorded from this area.




    (3) Addition of records to the "Checklist of the Vascular Plants of New Guinea" - Scientific name, authority, place of publication, type collection, references, and endemism are included in this checklist. An estimated 25,000 to 30,000 accepted species of vascular plants are known thus far in New Guinea.

    The specimen database lists all vascular plant collections from the Indonesian province of Papua, previously Irian Jaya (now divided into two provinces), and Papua New Guinea. Because of its floristic associations with New Guinea collections from the Aru (Aroe) Islands (Maluku Province) are included. Records are also included from the North Solomons Province (Buka and Bougainville), politically part of Papua New Guinea.

    Over 350,000 collections of vascular plants were entered into the database. Information on type collections and recent revisions will be especially important for researchers and students in New Guinea, where there are limited library and e-mail facilities.

    The database highlights areas where the flora is unknown or poorly known and will act as a guide for future expeditions. They will form an essential tool to identify conservation areas and biodiversity priorities for all levels of government in New Guinea.



    Images from the Field






    The BRIT research team studied at a variety of sites located on the island of New Guine and the many smaller islands that surround it. Former BRIT Tropical Botanist, Bob Johns, lived in Papua New Guinea for 10 months each year.  He worked closely with village inhabitants to document the diversity of understudied regions. In this image, Bob and his village assistants are in a savanna on Normanby Island. The pristine forests found within New Guinea provide a home for a large diversity of plant and animal species- many of these undescribed by science. New Guinea is home to a variety of ecosystems such as glaciers, tundra, savanna, mangroves, wetlands, rainforests, riparian and coastal. 

    Traveling to Chosen Destinations

    These village assistants took a quick break to be photographed during their hike to collect specimens.  These collections were entered into the New Guinea database and then shipped to the herbarium at BRIT for further study.   Traveling to field sites is sometimes rather difficult.  Bob Johns usually traveled by boat to reach some of the nearby islands. In this image you see several of the village assistants that worked with the New Guinea Diversity project.