Useful plants information in common people’s hands: Ecuador project


Ecuador is a privileged country in natural beauty and diversity, represented in a multiplicity of ecosystems where a variety of cultures have developed. However, natural and cultural Ecuadorian diversity are endangered, the lack of basic knowledge and the poor or nonexistent access to existing knowledge may be the most serious impediment for sustainable resource use and management.

Ethnobotanic studies in Ecuador are numerous, and an important contribution to the knowledge about useful plants in this country is the result of the extensive cooperation between the Department of Systematic Botany of Aarhus University and the herbarium of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (QCA). Nevertheless, the broad information produced in the past stills dispersed and it is not easily available. Therefore, it is necessary to compile, integrate and organize all this information from bibliographic sources and botanical museum samples, to put it in hands of the community in general.

Our methodology needs and ensures the establishment of a network together with other tropical Andean countries (i.e. the Instituto de Ecología in Bolivia), during all the different steps of the project, in particular during the first ones. User-friendly documentation of biodiversity will be emphasized.


• Compilation of bibliographic information.

Information will be obtained from libraries, ethnobotanical research related institutions, and electronic sources. Documents compiled will be kept at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador herbarium library.

• Compilation of information from herbarium samples (Ecuadorian and foreign herbaria).

• Design, updating and diffusion of an Ecuadorian useful plants data base.

This data base will be continuously updated and available to the general public through an internet portal.

• Publication of results

The main publication will be the Catalogue of useful plants from Ecuador that will be elaborated and published as fascicles. Other publications will include scientific and popular science papers.

• Catalogue of useful plants from Ecuador promotion and dissemination.


Existing information about Ecuadorian useful plants will be compiled, integrated, and organized in the Catalogue and in scientific and massive communication media. Ecuadorian useful plants bibliography will be included in the Library of QCA herbarium in the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador and it will be available in the permanently updated database. T,-+he results of this project will allow the exploration and visualization of relationships and patterns between useful plants and their natural environment and human kind, which will help sustainable management decision-making concerning resources and landscapes.

The project will represent a starting point of a higher and regional netwok and will contribute to the knowledge about information management in tropical Andean countries.


Participant Lucía de la Torre; supervisors  Hugo Navarrete, Henrik Balslev & Finn Borchsenius