News Focus

Tending the Global Garden

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Science  10 Sep 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5997, pp. 1274-1277
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5997.1274

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In 2008, Brazilian researchers embarked on a major effort to develop a comprehensive list of the nation's plants by 2010, the deadline for the goals set forth in the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity, an international treaty on the conservation of flora and fauna worldwide. Thanks to that effort, Brazil is now one of the few countries that can boast of having an online database where researchers, conservationists, and the public can examine the distribution and other information about each plant, some 41,000 species. Brazil's taxonomists aren't the only ones who have been hustling. As part of the same initiative, the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, botanists and computer experts from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the Missouri Botanical Garden are striving to finalize a list of the known plant species in the world before the year's end.