Historic herbarium specimens as biocultural assets: An examination of herbarium specimens and their in situ plant communities of the Agulhas National Park, South Africa - Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew research repository
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Historic herbarium specimens as biocultural assets: An examination of herbarium specimens and their in situ plant communities of the Agulhas National Park, South Africa

22 April 2020

Abstract

Globally there is a need for protected areas to conserve both biodiversity and heritage. Historic specimen localities, although significant to botanists, are not known or recognized under the global heritage umbrella; yet they form an important component of the protected area landscape.

We aimed to articulate the conservation and heritage value of herbarium specimens, and make the links between people, botanical culture and nature explicit in order to argue the case that historic specimens and their associated in situ plant populations are biocultural heritage assets.

This paper bridges the gap between biodiversity conservation and culture by confirming the presence of historic plant localities in the Cape Floristic Region of South Africa, from collections made prior to 1914.

Once confirmed, present historic plant localities can be included into protected area conservation management and heritage portfolios and ensure a continued contribution to knowledge generation through conservation of these historic sites.

Historic specimens and their associated in situ localities are valuable to both ecological study and conservation around the world and this paper highlights an emerging facet to science of the influence of people on the natural landscape.

We found this to be the case not only in an ecologically transformative way, but from a heritage aspect regarding the social nature of botanizing and discovering.

Historic specimen localities thus link the past with the current and future management of a protected area.

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