Lesson Learned

Yang Yongping, deputy director, Kunming Institute of Botany (KIB) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences; division head, ethnobotany laboratory of KIB.

With funding from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, KIB implemented a project to inventory the local useful nontimber forest products in the Meili Snow Mountain region of the Mountains of Southwest China Hotspot.

What is the most important lesson you have learned?

Encouraging local people to inventory their useful plants has proven to be effective and practical, but more training and practice for local practitioners would result in better specimens.

Describe how you learned this and whether/how you have adapted your approach or specific project elements as a result.

The project conducts multidisciplinary research on plant biodiversity in subtropical broadleaf forests and Himalayan subalpine flora, focusing on the conservation and sustainable use of plants in the region.

Although two trainings on photograph and specimen collection were provided, it was later found not to be enough. Many of the photos provided by the local practitioners are poor in quality. For instance, some of the photos are not focused, while some lack characteristic parts, such as flowers and fruits, which are important for plant identification.

Hence, it is very important to leave more time to the local practitioners for training and practice, which would allow them to master the basic skills of handling the camera, taking the voucher photos, and preparing specimens that meet the requirement of a botanist. It would also be useful to deepen their understanding by illustrating “good” and “not good” photos and specimens.

- June 2006