Hispanic Heritage Month: The Garden’s Peru Program

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re having a month-long series focused on our work in Latin America. This week, we’re learning about the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Peru program!

Leading the team is Program Director, Rodolfo Vásquez​ (below, first from left in front row), and Program Manager, Rocío Rojas​ (below, second from left in front row). The small but mighty Peru team manages HOXA or the Oxapampa Central Jungle Herbarium (Herbario Selva Central Oxapampa) that was established in 2003 in the town of Oxapampa, Peru. The herbarium specializes in the study of biodiversity (taxonomy) and human use (ethnobotany) of the vascular plants of the Andes and Amazon. The herbarium is home to over 85,000 specimen that document the diversity and distribution of plant species in Peru.  The herbarium is a center for research, visited yearly by students and scientist from around the world interested in Peruvian biodiversity.

Located in the Selva Central Region in the eastern flanks of the Andes, the Peru team has made more than 130,000 plant collections, discovered 200+ new species, and can collect around 4,000 specimens a year. A copy of this specimens stays in their herbarium, and another is shipped to St. Louis to enrich the herbarium of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Given their team size and the tenure of this 20-year program, the Peru team’s work is insanely impressive and valuable in continuing to document, conserve and restore some of the world’s rarest plant species!

The Garden’s Peru team collaborates with the National Service of Protected Areas in training of park guards​ of conservation lands. The team also collaborates with of the National Agency for the Supervision of Forest Resources and Wildlife (OSINFOR), providing plant identifications​, species-level information & research​ necessary to manage the natural resources of the country.

Additionally, the Peru team has collaborated with researchers from the University of Leeds in the UK to establish and monitor 122 sites in 13 protected areas (totaling around 85,000 trees). The team also trains students interested in botany, and the herbarium serves as a fantastic resource for courses attended by students from Peru and other Andean countries.

Well now you’ve met Missouri Botanical Garden – Peru! Their team has taken great strides in the world of botany and has built upon the Garden’s rewarding work in Latin America over the years. Stay tuned for next week’s introduction to another one of the Garden’s Latin America team – Bolivia!

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