Herbarium of Pakistan (ISL) QAU containing 150,000 specimens of plants to be digitalized

With many segments working for the promotion of environmental and biodiversity issues. A herbarium of QAU containing specimens of some 150,000 specimens of plant species would be digitalised by the yearend, providing online access to relevant information across the globe. The core digital collection programme has been initiated under the supervision of Professor Dr. Mir Ajab Khan, Dr. Mushtaq Ahmad, a plant taxonomist and Dr. Muhammad Zafar, a herbarium botanist and their students. The outcome of this project includes the production of number of research papers, books and Ph.D and M.Phil in Plant Systematics and Biodiversity.
The specimens have been collected by taxonomists and teams of students of department of Plant sciences at the Quaid-i-Azam University from all over Pakistan including Gilgit-Baltistan, Salt Range, Galliyat, Deserts, Sindh, Balouchistan, AJK and Northern Himalayan areas and would be accessible online from people living across the globe. The herbarium staff building an electronic Herbarium Catalogue containing images of the specimens and information taken from their collection labels.
This unique collection of plants is available in digital format and they are actively digitalising the collection through routine curatorial activity and a range of new projects. "The herbarium contains the specimens of 150 families of flowering plants along with mass collection of gymnosperms (conifers) and lower plants (non-seed producing plants) and all of these plant species are entirely indigenous in nature.
The overall objective of digitalisation of the herbarium is to link this national wealth of the country with international research institutes and global web of knowledge. Many universities, museums, and botanical gardens maintain herbaria. Herbaria have also proven very useful as sources of plant DNA for use in taxonomy and molecular systematics. The largest herbaria in the world includes Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle (P) (Paris) and KEW Herbarium (UK).
In this project the plants are preserved in herbarium in line with internationally recognised procedures being followed by international institutes like Kew Botanical Garden (Kew) in London. The herbarium contains important endangered, rare and vulnerable specimens of the plant species that offers much more for conservationists and environmentalists at the local and international level as well.
Digital resources in herbarium of QAU have grown at an increasing rate and now they have an image server and many project databases with information about specimens that would be made available after initiation of digitalised service. This herbarium has access to every one for collection of plant species including foreigners, scientists, taxonomists, botanists, herbalists, naturalists, students and teachers from universities, colleges and schools. In this way herbarium plays an important role in promotion of natural history of plant wealth of Pakistan.
The oldest specimens were collected some 50 years ago and 52 per cent of all flowering plant genera are represented in the collection. The herbarium scientists are committed to making this important collection more accessible to botanists and others, wherever they may be, for use in their own projects: particularly in biodiversity, conservation and sustainable development. Currently ongoing projects linked to herbarium include taxonomic studies of wild vegetables, wild edible fruits, biodiesel plants based resources, medicinal plants and pollen flora of Northern Pakistan.