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Unique species project expands across borders

The National Key to the Flora and Fauna of Sweden is Sweden's largest book project ever. Sweden is the first country in the world to describe its species in this way.

Now collaboration with Norway is being launched in order to enhance our knowledge and competence regarding Scandinavia's animal and plant species.

In connection with the meeting of EU environmental ministers in Strömstad and the opening of the Koster Sea and Outer Hvaler National Parks on September 9, an agreement is to be signed regarding collaboration between Sweden's and Norway's species projects.

This is taking place onboard the full-rigged Christian Radich, with Norway's minister for the environment and development, Erik Solheim, and Sweden's minister for the environment, Andreas Carlgren.

In early 2002 the Swedish Species Information Center at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) was commissioned by the parliament to describe all of Sweden's animals, plants, and fungi. The aim was to make knowledge about the species available to the Swedish people. At the same time the species project entails a boost in terms of research. There are many gaps in our knowledge of Sweden's some 60,000 species of multicellular organisms. In January 2009 Norway followed suit, starting its own species project, and now more formalized collaboration is being launched.

"This collaboration is a natural and welcome extension of the comprehensive work that we have already started. The Swedish Species Information Center has excellent contacts with its sister organization, the Species Information Center of Norway, where the Norwegian Species Project will be centered. We are delighted that our respective governments want to manifest in this way the importance of mapping our biological diversity," says Johan Bodegård, who directs the Swedish Species Information Center.

The agreement is in line with the political objectives of the two countries to stop the loss of biological diversity. Sweden and Norway have unique opportunities and mutual benefits to reap from collaborating on a knowledge-based and sustainable stewardship of biological diversity. The goal is also for this enhanced knowledge be a boon to the public, to authorities, and to research.

The Swedish Species Project stands on three solid pillars:
o Taking inventory of primarily poorly known groups of organisms.
o Taxonomical research on poorly known species. Taxonomy is the branch of research that describes species and how they are related to each other.
o Popular presentation of species in a book series titled The National Key to the Flora and Fauna of Sweden.

The National Key to the Flora and Fauna of Sweden is Sweden's largest book project ever. In this comprehensive reference work, Sweden's multicellular plants, animals, and fungi will be described in a popular style. Funding for the project has been allocated by the parliament, and Sweden is the first country in the world to describe its species in this way. The National Key will be published by the Swedish Species Information Center at SLU in Uppsala.

Contacts at the Swedish Species Information Center, SLU
Johan Bodegård (director) phone: +46 (0)18-67 24 30; cell phone: +46 (0)70-266 8600
Ulf Gärdenfors (director taxonomy program) phone: +46 (0)18-67 26 23; cell phone: +46 (0)70-678 5432

Johan Samuelsson (information) phone: +46 (0)18-67 34 09,

Carin Wrange | idw
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