Botanical Survey of India signs MoU with UK’s Natural History Museum

Feb 17, 2018 10:15 IST
Botanical Survey of India signs MoU with UK’s Natural History Museum

The Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and Natural History Museum (NHM) of United Kingdom signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in New Delhi on February 16, 2018 to enhance cooperation in the field of genetic/taxonomic studies, research and training and conservation in India, including species and habitat conservation assessments.

The MoU was signed by BSI Director Dr. Paramjit Singh and Head of the Algae, Fungi and Plants Division, NHM, Dr. Sandra Knapp, in the presence of Union Environment Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan.

Objective

The main objective behind signing the agreement is to open up mediums of collaboration in science, support further research and boost scientific study for the benefit of both India and UK.

The agreement will also help both the nations keep up with their commitment to use scientific evidence to support the goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity, CITES and the Nagoya Protocol.

Besides this, the MoU will centre on capacity building and scientific exchanges between the two nations and will enable both to learn from each other and work collaboratively to address important scientific questions and deliver benefit to humanity.

Significance

The agreement will pave the way for the BSI staff to work in London’s Natural History Museum and for the staff there to work in Botanical Survey of India.

It will also enable the exchange of knowledge and information between the two esteemed research organisations.

They will be able to share fairly the benefits that may arise from the collection, study and conservation of the plant materials such as seeds, herbarium specimens and tissue samples and exchange associated data and images.

NHM will also help BSI in capacity building in areas of systematic botany and long-term conservation of plant genetic resources in India.\

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Background

• Botanical research has a long history in India, and modern scientific institutions have developed over two centuries.

• The collection of Indian plants stored in UK’s institutions together with India’s own rare collections is an invaluable resource for modern Indian botanical science.

• The collections, digitisation and study by Indian scientists will make these openly available for wider scientific use in India in areas such as biodiversity conservation, environmental protection and preservation of plant resources for use in traditional health systems by rural communities.

• Besides this, lakhs of herbarium specimens of Indian plants are located in the Natural History Museum in London and a renewed partnership with the Botanical Survey of India would enable creating digital images of these specimens to make them available to Indian science.

• The UK government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), has, in fact, honoured three BSI staff members with Rutherford Fellowships to undertake this important work in London.

• The selected staff has already received training in all aspects of digitisation and herbarium curation and have already imaged some 16,000 sheets in plant families that are essential to crop science and food security.

• At the same time, two botanists from NHM have been working in BSI herbaria throughout the country, identifying specimens, capacity building, interacting with young Indian taxonomists and exchanging ideas.

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