Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Apartado 7495 Bogotá, Colombia
Albrecht von Haller Institute of Plant
The Catalogue of the Plants of Colombia started in June 2001, as a joint initiative of the Instituto de Ciencias Naturales and the Department of Systematic Botany of the University of Göttingen. The initiative was presented to the Colombian biological community in July 2001, during the celebration of the Day of Biodiversity in Villa de Leyva, and in October that year during the Eighth Latin American Botanical Congress and Second Colombian Botanical Congress in Cartagena (Bernal 2002). In November 2003, with the support of the Volkswagen Foundation, the first stage of the project was formally initiated: --the process of information compilation and refining.
There were two reasons for producing the Catalogue in two stages. First, the financial support obtained for the project did not guarantee the completion of the work, planned for mid-2008; for this reason, it was deemed more appropriate to produce the Catalogue iteratively. This way, by the end of first stage it would be feasible to have a product that, although not absolutely refined, could be usable enough, and could serve as a base for the construction of the final version. On the other hand, the initial list of angiosperms from which we started was incomplete and outdated, and thus, it would hardly be of any use to specialists as a base for their own compilations. A lengthy process of revision of species and standardization of names and authors was required, before the list could be of any utility. In that process, we also decided to incorporate to the lists all names of Colombian plants recorded in the National Colombian Herbarium, and those documented in the database of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Simultaneously, we revised the validity of each name, its current use, and the actual occurrence of the species in Colombia. Due to time constraints, the revision was made with different levels of depth for the various families. Whereas for some of them the revision covered most of the literature available for the group, for other families we could only check the status of the names in some databases in Internet (W3TROPICOS, ILDIS, IPNI) and verify the occurrence of the species in the country.
All the lists of the Catalogue will be reviewed and further refined by specialists, during the two and half years of the project’s second phase. This way, the final version of the Catalogue of the Plants of Colombia that we will deliver to the scientific community and to the society by mid-2009 will reflect as much as possible the current state of knowledge of our flora.