Details of the PNGTrees Project


The principal investigators of this project are Barry J. Conn (National Herbarium of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia) and Kipiro Q. Damas (Papua New Guinea National Herbarium, Lae, Papua New Guinea).

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Aim of Project

One of the major concerns facing the people of Papua New Guinea is the capacity for them to document the rich biodiversity of this country. The documentation of the flora of PNG still relies heavily on the research efforts of scientists who are working outside of the country. However, even with many world experts studying the systematics of this region's flora, the documentation of the vascular plants remains very incomplete. Furthermore, these descriptions of the plants of PNG are scattered throughout various publications, many of which are not readily available within the country. Therefore, the aim of this project was to develop a simple, structured method for documenting the flora of Papua New Guinea. Since the Papua New Guinea National Herbarium (LAE) has limited resources, including IT capability, the system needed to be simple, being both easy to operate and manage.

The plant identification key being developed will be a tool, together with the descriptions, diagrams, botanical illustrations and images, that will enable the user to correctly identify the commercial trees of the region using simplified terminology. It is hoped that 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.

Software Tools

The DeltaAccess 1.9 software has been used to manage the data because it is freely available and is based on Microsoft Access 2002 database software. DeltaAccess also enables the definition of plant features and other important characteristics to be managed by the software, such that it acts as a controlled vocabulary (glossary or data dictionary). Furthermore, DeltaAccess is able to output these data in DELTA format which makes these descriptive data widely available for other applications. The descriptions of the trees included in this project have been generated by DeltaAccess software. Likewise, the data sheets used to score the features are managed by this system. The DELTA files are exported from DeltaAccess and these are used to generate the web-based interactive identification 'key' that uses NaviKey software.

Web Access to Descriptive Data

Since the principle investigators are based in separate organisation in two different countries, the web-access functionality of DeltaAccess has enabled both researchers to have access to the same dataset, which is housed at the National Herbarium of New South Wales (NSW).


Although the interactive identification key to the major commercial tree species of Papua New Guinea is still under-development and being actively added to and edited, the available information is presented here so that users are able to access the information as soon as it is available. It is planned that both a hard-copy book and an electronic compact disk-version will also be available.

The project to document the trees of Papua New Guinea began in March 2003, with supplementary support from The Australia & Pacific Biological Foundation. This initial phase of the project concentrated on preparing an interactive identification tool for the commercial trees of the Morobe Province of Papua New Guinea, as a three-year project to evaluate the feasibility of preparing a complete account of the trees occurring in the entire country.


We gratefully acknowledge the generous support that many people have provided throughout this project. The development of the descriptive data set was based on the work of previous projects. In particular,'The tree and shrub genera of Borneo', 'The Flowering Plants of Australia', and 'FloraBase'. The authors of these publications enthusiastically supported the PNGTrees project, making available their descriptive data structure and providing helpful advice. The 'Australian Tropical Rainforest Trees' publication was also consulted. Debra Wright, Vidiro Gei (both from the Wildlife Conservation Society, Goroka) and staff from the Papua New Guinea Forest Research Institute provided useful comments of the descriptive data set.

P.I. Forster (University of Queensland) and P.C. van Welzen (L) provided advice on nomenclature of Euphorbiaceae. L.A. Craven (CANB) provided current identifications for the genus Syzygium (Myrtaceae). Peter G. Wilson (NSW) provided advice on the Myrtaceae. L.W. Jessup (BRI) and T.D. Pennington (E) assisted with nomenclature of the genera within the Sapotaceae. Mark Coode (K) kindly assisted with several taxonomic issues in the Elaeocarpaceae and Combretaceae.

Gerhard Rambold (BMBF) kindly provide prompt advice on technical issues relating to the implementation of NaviKey. Gregor Hagedorn (BBA) provided considerable expert advice on the use of DeltaAccess software. We gratefully acknowledge Murray Henwood (SYD) for assisting with the development of the interactive identification key. We warmly thank the staff of the Papua New Guinea National Herbarium, together with the Papua New Guinea Forest Research Institute, for supporting all aspects of this project. In particular, Nalish Sam, Robert Kiapranis and Roy Banka provided resources and logistical support within Papua New Guinea. The success of the project depended on this support. Expert field support was provided by Roy Banka, Kaigube (Dick) Fazang, Oliver Paul and Tory Kuria (all from LAE). Darren Crayn and Elizabeth Brown (both NSW) also provided field assistance during July 2003 and November 2004 (respectively).

The PNGplants database has been extensively used throughout this project to check the plant collector's notes for details of morphological features and to verify the distribution of the species within Papua New Guinea. We are extremely grateful to the Australian herbaria who generously made their herbarium data available to the PNGplants project. We wish to acknowledge Linn Linn Lee (NSW), the developer of the PNGplants database. Her excellent programming has enabled LAE to start data processing their important collections. Jessie Waibauru (PNG Forest Research Institute) provided computer support for the PNGplants. Gary Chapple (NSW) provided database management assistance throughout the project, resolving many difficult issues to ensure that the database was fully functional. Balpina Tiki, Brenda Paul and Dubi Damas (all from LAE) have specifically data processed many herbarium records from Papua New Guinea so that these records are available for the PNGtrees project. We thank Billy Bau (LAE) for co-ordinating the data processing project.

We sincerely thank Brett Summerell and Tim Entwisle (both NSW) for their on-going support for this project. Their committment to the PNGtrees project as a research priority for the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust has enabled one of us (BJC) to continue working in Papua New Guinea. The generous supplementary financial support provided by The Australia & Pacific Biological Foundation enabled this initial phase of the project to begin.

Susan Hanfling (University of Sydney) provided considerable guidance and encouragement during the preparation of this project for publication. We thank her for her continuing support.

We thank the people of the Hobu, Yalu, Oomsis, Wagau, Bulolo and Gumi areas of the Morobe Province who welcomed us onto their land so that we could gather data on the tree species included in this project.