The Indian Ocean Commission, through the Biodiversity Program (IOC Biodiversity), with the support of the European Union, has sent botanists from the Western Indian Ocean region to participate in the AETFAT (Association for the Taxonomic Study of the Flora of Tropical Africa) International Botanical Congress, from 15 to 19 May in Nairobi, Kenya.
Botanists from the Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles attended the 21st edition, which was co-organized by the National Museums of Kenya and the University of Nairobi at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa.
According to Dr Hassan Wario Arero, Chief Guest during the official opening, “research in botany has contributed to the conservation of genetic resources in Kenya. It has also provided data and knowledge to our Government for planning purposes as well as capacity development in botanical sciences. It is necessary to support law enforcement agencies such as needs for wildlife forensics and mitigation of illegal trafficking and trade in endangered national natural resources”.
"Participation in AETFAT has allowed me to acquire new knowledge and expand my professional network", Mijoro Rakotoarinivo, teacher-researcher at the University of Antananarivo, added, "I was particularly interested in the new methodologies and research ideas presented at this conference in order to apply them to the analysis of the flora of Madagascar and to advise them to students”.
“We are here to talk not only about what we do but also to hear what the others do. And we hope to to find the links between the two so that in the future we can form a close network, not only from the Western Indian Ocean herbaria but also other herbaria in the region or even further herbaria” said Benny Bytebier, curator of the Kwazulu-Natal herbarium.
At its creation in 1951, AETFAT aimed to create a knowledge-sharing platform for botanists studying plants from tropical Africa. Over the years, AETFAT has gradually developed into an international congress, bringing together and networking botanical experts from all over the world. They are now contributing not only to the development of botanical capacities, but also to research and conservation of biodiversity, environmental protection and socio-economic development in Africa.