The John Topp Botanical Fund is a designated CCT fund which aims to increase the understanding of the natural vegetation of the Chagos Archipelago.
The main aims of the expedition were:
- Recording vegetation every mile by dividing the island into areas and defined survey lines using a traditional survey approach. These botanical data are available online via Kew’s UKOTs Online Herbarium.
- Experimenting with capturing survey points with 360° photos. Annotated habitat images were recorded using a 360° camera, which are available to view online. The plant survey dataset collected will now be used to guide and validate the mapping of Diego Garcia’s vegetation using very high-resolution satellite images.
- Collecting images from a drone that surveyed a representative area of the island vegetation. For each flight the set of images have yielded high quality image maps, orthomosaics, and complementary photogrammetrically-derived digital surface models. Available here.
- Collecting the first seeds from this overseas territory which have now been processed and accessioned at Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, and several fungi which have been incorporated in Kew’s Fungarium.
The full report can be read here.
It is hoped the team can revisit the Chagos Archipelago in the future to continue this important work.