New course sets high standards for plant identification

By UNDP

Twenty environmentalists underwent a two-week intensive plant identification course for forest rehabilitation that was held between 18th -29th July.

Plant ID training Credit: UNDP Seychelles

The course focused on teaching participants to identify plants ranging from common invasive weeds to rare endemic species, and trained participants to use resources such as the Seychelles Plant Gallery (an online database for the identification of Seychelles plants).

Charles Morel, one of the experts who designed the course explained that “The Seychelles has many endemic and native plants which have mostly survived on glacis and mountain tops, but much of the forest is now dominated by introduced plants. Many people, even those working for the environment can only recognize a few plants. ” He went on to explain that “this course was designed for forest workers, rangers and conservation staff.”

The course took participants to many remote sites, including Montaigne Poséeand Mare aux Cochon, to look for a wide range of introduced and native plants, taught participants about plant science and how to use reference tools. At the end, participants were assessed based on their ‘reference collections’ and an exam. The pass rate was 90% and five people got distinctions.

Unels Bristol, a forestry contractor, commented “I already knew a lot of trees from the Seychelles but this was a great chance to really improve my knowledge with the best botanists in the Seychelles.”

The course was designed and led by the Plant Conservation Action group (PCA) and was funded under the Ecosystem base Adaptation to Climate Change project managed by GOS-UNDP-GEF Program Coordination Unit (PCU).

James Millett, Technical Advisor to the project said “this was designed to give rehabilitation workers the skills they need to manage forest but the quality of training exceeded expectations. We are pretty confident no courses to this standard has been run in any small island nation and it’s a model that can be used elsewhere.”

For more information, see: http://www.seychellesplantgallery.com/gallery.html

Copyright 2016 United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs