New project: Mobilising the value of biocultural collections in Brazil

Mobilising the value of biocultural collections in Brazil, a project funded by the Institutional Links British Council (Newton Fund) led by the Instituto de Pesquisas Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro (JBRJ), in partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Birkbeck, University of London, the Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), the Federação das Organizações Indígenas do Rio Negro (FOIRN) and the Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi (MPEG).

Dr Luciana Martins forms part of this interdisciplinary project team, which involves ethnobotanists, curators, anthropologists and indigenous researchers with the aim to build capacity among Brazilian research institutes and indigenous communities on the Rio Negro to research, catalogue and mobilise data from important collections, and to develop these unique resources for improved understanding of the useful and cultural properties of plants.

Included in this project was a one-week training course delivered at the Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro, applying Brazil- and UK-based expertise whilst drawing on specialist knowledge among the trainees, and a 10-day workshop in São Gabriel da Cachoeira, which sought to develop skills in autonomous biocultural research and interpretation/education among indigenous communities in the Upper Rio Negro, building on the Instituto Socioambiental’s existing programme in the region.

Richard Spruce’s collections held by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, many of which originated from this region, was used as source material for part of the training, alongside a focus on contemporary material culture and plant use.

For an insight into this project, watch The Many Lives of A Shield (2016) from The Derek Jarman Lab: