Scientists from China and Kenya on yesterday launched a volume of the Flora of Kenya marking the publication of Kenya’s first national flora and filling the gap in the field of plant resources research in the country.
The Flora of Kenya, which is divided into 31 volumes, will document the East African nation’s nearly 7,000 plant species from 223 families.
The 23rd volume, “Rubiaceae,” is the first part of the project that was officially published Monday by Hubei Science and Technology Press and the East African Natural History Society.
It is a collaborative research venture involving scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), the Sino-Africa Joint Research Center (SAJOREC) and the National Museums of Kenya.
Mary Gikungu, the director-general of the National Museums of Kenya, said the launch of the publication detailing the country’s rich flora will inform efforts to conserve them and spur green growth.
“The book that we have just launched is very important because it provides the identity of the flora of Kenya.” She said.
“It talks about very important plant species that we need to conserve in our environment and maybe make use of them in terms of socioeconomic benefits,” Gikungu added.
She hailed the collaboration between Chinese and Kenyan scientists, saying that it has injected vitality into the conservation of species that are key to food security and climate resilience in the country.
Through collaboration with China, the National Museums of Kenya has been able to build the capacity of its researchers to promote habitat conservation at the grassroots level, Gikungu stressed.
Liu Weidong, director of the Bureau of International Cooperation of the CAS, said that Flora of Kenya will shed light on the country’s vast repository of plant species and inform their sustainable conservation.
Monday’s launch of the publication also reaffirmed the critical role of Sino-Kenyan scientific collaboration in strengthening the conservation of natural resources and realizing the sustainability agenda.
The Flora of Kenya publication documents the results of field research spanning nearly 10 years and will illuminate China’s edge in plant science, said Wang Qingfeng, director of the Wuhan Botanical Garden of the CAS. According to Wang, both Chinese and Kenyan scientists have for almost a decade carried out extensive field surveys, collected specimens, discovered and documented new species to enhance the understanding of botany among scientists and the public.
Geoffrey Mwachala, the chief scientist at the National Museums of Kenya and editor-in-chief of the Flora of Kenya publication, said its launch marked a milestone in Sino-Kenyan scientific cooperation to promote the conservation of iconic plant species.
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Huang Guobin, chairman of Hubei Changjiang Publishing and Media Group, the parent company of Hubei Science and Technology Press, said the publication of the Flora of Kenya is a new starting point, and in the future, more Sino-African cultural products will be presented to the public, further promoting in-depth exchanges between China and Africa.
Launched in 2015, the Flora of Kenya research project involved numerous field trips across the country to collect and identify a large number of plant specimens and take pictures of thousands of plants.