SEAMEO BIOTROP organized a Training on Digitizing Herbarium Collection on 20-24 February 2017 at its headquarter in Bogor specifically for 14 delegates representing four herbaria, namely BIOTROP Herbarium, Herbarium Bogoriense, Herbarium of Forest Research and Development Center and Nature Conservation and Jambi University Herbarium. The training was coordinated by Dr Sri S. Tjitrosoedirdjo.
The training was made possible by the Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) under its Expert Dispatch Program through the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO). The MEXT dispatched Prof. Motomi Ito, an expert in Biodiversity Informatics, Evolutionary Biology and Plant Taxonomy from the Department of General Systems Sciences of Tokyo University, to serve as a resource person for the training.
The training was aimed to 1) ensure a more organized and user-friendly search, retrieval and storage system for identification and information of herbarium collections; 2) protect actual specimen from further damage due to frequent retrievals of users and other natural forms of deterioration; and 3) make herbarium collection more accessible to a much wider range of users via online system.
Prof Ito oriented the participants on the proper workflow in digitizing herbarium collections and introduced Darwin Core which is used as a de-facto standard schema for sharing biodiversity data. He also explained how to make herbarium specimen information fit Darwin Core and how to input the local specimen database into Global Biodiversity Information System. He also reviewed and gave suggestions for improvement on the current digitalization activities of the respective herbaria of the institutions represented in the training. He specifically advised ways on how to properly maintain and maximize the use of a digitized herbarium collection to fully address the needs of users.
To maximize the presence of Prof Ito in Bogor, BIOTROP held a public seminar for him to share about “Trends and Future Directions in Digitized Herbarium in Japan” on 23 February 2017. In his presentation, Prof Ito stated that now sharing biodiversity data became an international trend. By developing database of the specimens, sharing information would promote sciences. He emphasized the significance of digitizing herbarium specimen for taxonomic studies. He said that a digitized herbarium will be convenient for taxonomists in accessing the data online, instead of borrowing real sheets of specimens. He also informed the audience about steps in digitizing herbarium collection and about the Darwin Core.
In addition, Prof Ito also mentioned about the history of herbarium digitization in Japan. His country started to digitize herbarium specimens in 1980’s with herbarium of University of Tokyo as the first one. The specimens from this herbarium were provided as both databases and printed materials. The digitization for major herbaria in Japan was then started at the beginning of 21th century. There were 3,816,223 data provided for GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information) Japanese node available for internationally sharing in 2015. Among them, one third is plant data. Prof Ito laboratory is now one of the center of biodiversity informatics in Japan and working for GBIF-Japan National Node and Japan of Life Initiative.
Part of the training was visits to Herbarium of Forest Research and Development Center and Nature Conservation, Bogor Botanical Garden and its Herbarium as well as Herbarium Bogoriense on 24 February 2017.