Plant Collecting and Herbarium Techniques Course

Herbaria are a fundamental importance as a source of information for the identification, assessment, and classification of plants used for crop breeding and development, as well as for the understanding biodiversity and measures for species conservation. This is particularly true of the tropical regions, where plant diversity is greatest and least explored. This certificate course in herbarium techniques is designed to attract students many of whom obtain support from the COEB and other departments the University of Rwanda.

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Elligibility: Any University of Rwanda undergraduate or graduate student. Candidates should be highly motivated and have a genuine interest in plant biodiversity and conservation
Course instructor: Dr. Michael B. Thomas
When: Open enrollement – self-paced course
Where: Huye campus, University of Rwanda
Deliverables: 1 Poster presentation, 250 specimens and a final exam. A participant is required to prepare a herbarium related poster, collect 250 plant specimens. A final examination (multiple choice and true false, short answer) will be given. Certificates are awarded at the conclusion of training.

Recent 2023 graduates: Pascal Sibomana, Sandrine Uwase

The training will:
1. cover the topics essential to Herbarium Techniques and Management by a series of lectures demonstrations and practical sessions
2. introduce ancillary topics to encourage participants to broaden their interests and skills in systematics and related fields
3. give participants the knowledge and skills to become proficient herbarium technicians, based on understanding of the principles of herbarium management 
4. give participants the insight to select methods most appropriate to the needs of their own institutions 
5. enable participants to appreciate the value of information available in a herbarium and to make it accessible to a wider audien
6. enable participants to gain a wider understanding of conservation and development policy in their host country
7. provide an opportunity to establish international contacts in a taxomic group with similar interests 
8. give the opportunity to visit other important herbaria in Rwanda

A semi-structured course of lectures, demonstrations, and field visits will give a comprehensive coverage of the herbarium techniques and management. This will be supported by guided and individual practical sessions giving ample opportunity to learn and practice a variety of plant collecting skills. In addition, a practical specimen collection is required.

Role of Taxonomy
Angiosperm Phylogeny Family arrangement
Essential floristic literature
Purpose, history and types of herbaria
History of collecting in Rwanda – important collectors
Specimen storage
Pests and treatments
Acquiring plant collecting permits
Collecting and Preservation materials required
Plant collecting and pressing techniques
Specimen data recording and data entry
Field photographs record keeping
Handling specimens
Label making
Specimen preparation
Specimen digitization
Accessioning and incorporating mounted specimens into the herbarium
Accomodating visitors and tours
Distributing duplicates
Ancilliary collections (seed, spirit)

Planned Visits:
Tour of the University of Rwanda Arboretum
Field trips to demonstrate aspects of the Rwanda flora
Tour of the Ellen DeGeneres Campus, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International Herbarium.