Call for a worldwide botanical database

update: 22 sept. 1999
A first english version was made from french by AltaVista Translations


to make botanical data available on Internet :


Currently these basic scientific data, which moreover refer to a threatened inheritance of humanity are in: At a time when thousands of species are disappearing forever, sometimes even before description, it would be irresponsible (and absurd) not to make an inventory of the biological inheritance of our earth. But how can we preserve what is poorly known? Knowledge which is too difficult to access is unusable. Nowadays a botanist has to travel to study herbaria, libraries. The difficulty of accessing information leads him to delay publications of new species, or to publish synonyms.

It is obvious that only data processing can carry out and make available this inventory. There is currently no other botanical project of a sufficient scale, except perhaps the project " Species Plantarum " of the IOPI (International Organization for Plant Information ), which seems to be in preliminary phase.
How is it possible that such a desirable and feasible project isn't in progress?

It is our hope that a sufficient number of software engineers will join the project, without waiting for public funding, in the understanding that this is a great project for humanity, and also a great, far-reaching, and enjoyable software project.


Imagine you're in nature, with a portable computer running the  botanical database, with a camera, a GPS, and a wireless Internet connection. Suddenly you meet a remarkable plant; you show it to the computer, which asks you two questions about the number of carpels, and the shape of hairs (answers needs a cutting of the ovary, and lenses). The computer tells you that this a new location of Strasburgeria robusta, which was thought to exist only in New Caledonia. You are proposed to send e-mails to the specialists of the Strasburgeriaceae, and of the region, and to collect a herbarium specimen. Meanwhile this discovery, complete with images and geographical coordinates, is sent to the global database, and the updated repartition map appears on the screen.


The botanical data will be available for any data-processing: In theory the botanical data are well structured, but this structure exists only on paper : The existence of a data-processing universal reference does not eliminate the need for scientific reviews and books, but on the contrary adds value to them.

Principles for action

Working groups
Manner of working will be similar to that of major data-processing projects under GNU public licence (Linux, Emacs, Perl, TCL, etc), except that here the emphasis is put on the data more than on the software: