Interactive keys to the common trees of Papua New Guinea

A project undertaken at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, and supervised by B Conn

There are very few resources available to the timber industry that will enable the accurate identification of major tree species within Papua New Guinea. The unnecessary destruction of rare and otherwise valuable tree species has resulted from the inability to distinguish these species from the preferred timber species. Furthermore, the mixture of unwanted timber with that from preferred species has frequently resulted in the downgrading of all lumber to wood-chip.

The aim of this new project is to develop interactive identification tools for the common trees of Papua New Guinea so that government and non-government agencies (particularly, foresters and loggers) are able to distinguish readily the important timber species from other non-timber trees. One of the most significant consequences of this interactive identification tool will be a reduction in the unnecessary destruction of forest species caused by incorrect plant identification.

The interactive identification key to the major commercial tree species of Papua New Guinea will be developed as both a compact disk- and web-based tool. The plant identification key being developed will be a tool that will enable the user to correctly identify the commercial trees of the region using simplified terminology and images. Initially, the 70 most important tree species will be included in this new initiative.

This project is a major the National Herbarium of Papua New Guinea, together with the Forestry Research Institute, Lae, Papua New Guinea and the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, NSW, Australia. These keys are being developed so that they readily integrate with the Flora Malesiana project objective to document the flora of the Malesian region. The principal investigators of this project are (Dr) Barry J. Conn (Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, NSW, Australia) and Mr Robert Kiapranis (National Herbarium of Papua New Guinea, Lae, Papua New Guinea).

This three-year project began in March 2003.

Collecting