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New project puts Gib flora online

‘Flora of Gibraltar’, an online project which was two years in the making, was launched at the Gibraltar Photographic Society at Wellington Front this week.

The project, developed jointly by the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens and Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS), is the first attempt to provide an identification guide to the entire native and naturalised vascular and bryophyte flora of Gibraltar.

The site has 670 species of terrestrial, vascular plants that have been recorded from Gibraltar.

Dr Keith Bensusan, the director of the Botanic Gardens, assisted in the launch of the website.

“The project is the most up to date and detailed work on the flora of Gibraltar ever created and it includes photos, maps and text for all species,” he said.

The project started as an effort to update a book called the ‘Flowers of Gibraltar’, which was written in the 1990s by Leslie Linares, Arthur Harper and Dr John Cortes. Initially, the group thought about producing a new book that would include the entire flora of Gibraltar but they said they quickly realised in this day and age an online flora would be a better solution.

“Because it is more accessible to the public and importantly it is dynamic work that can constantly be updated whenever there is new information available or whenever there a new species is discovered for Gibraltar,” said Dr Bensusan.

Also at the launch, but not in a ministerial capacity, was Dr John Cortes who called the website remarkable and said it “is fantastic to see.”

The team who made the project possible are Leslie Linares, who Dr Bensusan called ‘Gibraltar’s foremost botanist’, Charlie Perez, Rhian Guillem, Albert Gonzalez and Michael Grech from the Botanic Gardens.

A demonstration as to how the website can be used, with search capabilities ranging from the Latin name to typing in a month the plant blooms in.

Each plant has photographs attached, there is a glossary section making it user friendly to everybody who has an interest or their interest piqued with plants on the Rock.

The website also provides information on the distribution and ecology of all of the plants of Gibraltar.

The software used to create the website is called Scratchpad and according to those present yesterday it could be used and applied to other groups in nature such as invertebrates.

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