Guide to the Alpine and Subalpine Flora of Mt Jaya
Summit area of Mt Jaya (4884m), Indonesian New Guinea.
The Guide to the Alpine and Subalpine Flora of Mt Jaya project has studied the flora of Mt Jaya, which at 4,884 m is the highest peak in SE Asia. The project was initially developed to assess plant communities over a transect of 120 km stretching from the southern coast of New Guinea to the permanent glaciers which cap the summit. Access to this remote area was provided by a partnership with Rio Tinto and their involvement with PT-Freeport Indonesia, who operate a copper and gold mine on the mountain.
The Flora of New Guinea is the most poorly collected in the world, and this project undertook several large-scale expeditions to the area from 1988 to 2002. These expeditions resulted in approximately 5,000 collections with up to 8-10 duplicates of each one. A specimen database of the project's collections was added to by a comprehensive search of historical collections, beginning with those of Kloss in 1914 housed in the British Museum (BM), and now includes over 9,000 records. To date, 22 new species and one new genus have been published in an ongoing series of 'Contributions' papers dealing with the flora of the region.
The expeditions were organised and staffed primarily by Kew botanists with counterparts from institutions in Indonesia especially Herbarium Bogoriense, Kebun Raya Bogor, and the Biodiversity Centre at Manokwari, as well as botanists from Missouri and Edinburgh who joined the collecting trips.
The alpine and subalpine areas above 3,000 m are being impacted by the mining operations. The guide, which will be published in 2006 and deals with approximately 700 species, will be an important tool in understanding the vegetation on the mountain and in setting conservation priorities in the highlands of New Guinea. Each species is briefly described and given a preliminary conservation rating. The guide is illustrated with line drawings representing each genus, and a set of colour plates.