goodmorningpapua.com – A Recent research states that the Papua Island or New Guinea has the most plant diversity of several islands in the world. The world’s largest tropical island has 16% more plant diversity than Madagascar. Previously, Madagascar was called the center of biodiversity with 11,488 species. The research is the result of the combined work of 99 botanists from 56 institutions in 19 countries.
Some of them are the Regional Research and Development Agency (Balitbangda) of West Papua Province, the University of Papua, the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, the Natural History Museum, the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, and the University of Technology Papua New Guinea. The research results were published in the journal Nature.
The research team found 13,634 plant species from 1,742 genera and 264 families. Of these numbers, 68% or 9,301 species are endemic to the island of Papua. It means that more than two thirds of these plants are not found anywhere else.
Head of Balitbangda of West Papua Province, Charlie D. Heatubun, says the Papua Island has attracted the attention of naturalists for centuries. The island is home to the planet’s most conserved ecosystems, from mangrove forests, broad expanses of lowland forest, to the mountains grasslands.
In his opinion, botanists have identified and named plant collections in Papua since the 17th century. They kept samples of plant collections in the form of a herbarium in New Guinea, Indonesia, the Netherlands and England. However, no definite data has been found regarding the number of plant species on the island of Papua.
Previously it was estimated that the number of plants on the Papua Island ranged from 9,000 to 25,000 species. To be sure, 99 botanists verified the names of 23,000 plant species with more than 704,000 specimens.
“We found that Papua Island has nearly three times the number of vascular species of Java (4,598 species) and 1.4 times the number of vascular species of the Philippines (9,432 species). These are the two regions in Southeast Asia having published their flora. “Said Heatubun who also serves as Professor of Forest Botany at the Faculty of Forestry, University of Papua Manokwari in his written statement.
In addition, he said, orchids contributes for 20% of the flora in New Guinea and 17% of Indonesia’s territory, comparable to countries that have high biodiversity such as Ecuador (20%) and Colombia (15%) and tree species contribute 29% of all flora. “In comparison, the Amazon has 2.6 times as many tree species, but the area is 6.4 times as large,” said Heatubun.
Scientists hope the data will be useful for planning for the future conservation. They also hope that there will be increased efforts to train indigenous youth as plant taxonomists. Furthermore, the young taxonomists are tasked for digitizing collections on the Papua Island.