Needs of users of botanical information in South Africa: outcomes of a national workshop for the stakeholders and end-users of botanical information and herbaria

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Abstract:

In the face of an increasingly challenging scientific and fiscal environment, and of shrinking government funding to research institutions, these institutions (including herbaria) must enter the "stakeholder society", in which the needs of the customer are foremost, if they are to survive and remain relevant in the new millennium. To ensure that herbaria in South Africa are indeed delivering those products and services that their customers need and require, a national workshop was organised under the auspices of the Southern African Botanical Diversity Network (SABONET), which provided the setting for discussion (with the customers) of these needs and wants. Perhaps predictably, it was established that South African end-users of botanical information need more regularly updated, more comprehensive information (e.g., in terms of species lists, name changes and distributional data) than that which they are currently getting. They furthermore want a larger choice in the format of the information not only as hard copy, but also as Internet-based electronic versions. Faster, more efficient services (especially plant identification services) are needed. In terms of infrastructure: to have more confidence in the completeness of the data, a larger, more representative collated herbarium collection (and therefore the expansion of current herbarium collections) is needed. The herbaria of South Africa face several manpower and financial constraints in the implementation of the actions needed to address adequately the needs and wants of their stakeholders.

Keywords: BOTANICAL INFORMATION; HERBARIA; NEEDS ASSESSMENT; SABONET; SOUTH AFRICA; STAKEHOLDERS

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Office of the Research and Scientific Services Director, National Botanical Institute, Private Bag X101, Pretoria, 0001 South Africa.

Publication date: May 1, 2003

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