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Naming Nature

8 Mar 2017


There is a problem that we scientists call as “Taxonomic Impediment”. This refers to the shortage of experts called taxonomists or para-taxonomists whose job is to inventory and characterize world’s biodiversity. Taxonomic impediment is a universal problem. Shortage of this expertise is worldwide.

Interest in Malaysian undergrads in taxonomy is rapidly waning. The Malaysian government targets 60% science graduates and 40 % non-science graduates from local universities. Instead we are getting only 20% doing science today. The number of those majoring in taxonomy is far smaller. This is a universal problem - too many species but too few taxonomists.

As a result, assessment of biodiversity in our protected areas is proceeding very slowly. We need more taxonomists. Besides the lack of incentives and career prospects in taxonomic works, there is not much glamor sitting in dark corners of herbaria and museum looking under the microscopes in rooms smelling of formalin and dead animals. But, despite having to do this day in and day out, taxonomists  can be a happy lot  if new species of plants or animals can be discovered, named  and published.

In mind of the issues above, a gathering of taxonomists (past and present) will be held on March 18, 2017 to brainstorm ideas and ways to invigorate taxonomy as a rewarding career and to highlight recent developments in making this goal a reality.

The gathering is organized by Malaysian Nature Society with support from Yayasan Hasanah.


  • Short presentation of "science meets eco-education (and eco-tourism)", on how taxonomic research is used to generate public information to educate lay people on the value of biodiversity, thus enabling mass public participation to preserve our natural resources.
  • Role of project in Taxonomic Research
  • Role of project in Biodiversity and Conservation Education
  • Role of project in Eco-Tourism
  • Introduction to “Bringing Back Our Natural Heritage” project held overseas
  • To showcase the link between science and public education, there will be presentations of tools and applications such as state of the art websites, appbooks, DNA analysis, eCurator applications (for online collaborations) and hi-res imagery tools.

Date: Saturday, March 18, 2017

Venue: Yayasan Hasanah, Level 26, Mercu UEM, Jalan Stesen Sentral 5, KL Sentral, 50470 Kuala Lumpur

Who should attend: Taxonomists / Para-taxonomists / curators – retired and in current employment / hobbyists

*Refreshments and lunch shall be provided


Part 1
9.30 am - 12.30 pm

1) Meeting of retired and semi-retired taxonomists
2) Round table discussion on the existing situation facing local taxonomists
3) To brain storm ideas on revitalising taxonomy as a career path (in line with the expected establishment of MyNHM and new research tools)
4) To establish a "Consultative Council" to work with respective parties to carry out the ideas presented.

12.30 - 1.30 (Lunch - The "old" taxonomists have lunch together with the "current" ones)

Part 2
1.30 - 5 pm
1) Meeting of existing taxonomists currently working in the fields and with research institutions
2) Round table discussion on the existing situation facing field taxonomists
3) To brain storm ideas on revitalising taxonomy as a career path (in line with the expected establishment of MyNHM and new research tools).
Please RSVP by March 10, 2017 via email:


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