The Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and Natural History Museum (NHM) of United Kingdom signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in New Delhi on February 16, 2018 to enhance cooperation in the field of genetic/taxonomic studies, research and training and conservation in India, including species and habitat conservation assessments.The MoU was signed by BSI Director Dr. Paramjit Singh and Head of the Algae, Fungi and Plants Division, NHM, Dr. Sandra Knapp, in the presence of Union Environment Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan.
1. The agreement will pave the way for the BSI staff to work in London’s Natural History Museum and for the staff there to work in Botanical Survey of India.
2. NHM will help BSI in capacity building in areas of systematic botany and long-term conservation of plant genetic resources in India.
3. The agreement will also help both the nations keep up with their commitment to use scientific evidence to support the goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity, CITES and the Nagoya Protocol.
4. They will be able to share fairly the benefits that may arise from the collection, study and conservation of the plant materials such as seeds, herbarium specimens and tissue samples and exchange associated data and images.
5. Lakhs of herbarium specimens of Indian plants are located in the Natural History Museum in London, and a renewed partnership with the Botanical Survey of India is creating digital images of these specimens to make them available to Indian science.
6. Three staff members of BSI have received Rutherford Fellowships (funded by the UK government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – BEIS) to undertake this important work in London.
7. They have received training in all aspects of digitisation and herbarium curation, and have already imaged some 16,000 sheets in plant families that are essential to crop science and food security.
8. Two botanists from NHM are working in BSI herbaria throughout the country, identifying specimens, capacity building, interacting with young Indian taxonomists and exchanging ideas.