Our Planet Reviewed - Expedition Papua New-guinea


Our planet reviewed

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The fruit of experience


The initiative “La Planète revisitée” does not result from a spontaneous generation. As heir of the great naturalist expeditions of the past, it is based on proven know-how, the quintessence of which is expressed in the expedition “Santo 2006” which was organised by the MnHn and PNI in cooperation with the IRD. For four months, more than 150 scientists travelled Espiritu Santo, the biggest island of Vanuatu and its surroundings in order to carry out an unprecedented inventory of its biodiversity. They were not alone on this adventure: diving experts, climbers, speleologists, logistics specialists, collectors, guides, amateur naturalists, photographers, journalists... In total, 212 people from 25 different countries contributed to the revelation of the portrait of the biodiversity of Santo at the beginning of this 21st century. Many years will still be necessary to exploit all the results of this marvellous enterprise but among the 10,000 species which were collected several hundred have already proved to be new to science. This expedition again shone light upon our vision of the distribution of biodiversity.
By demonstrating the scope of benefits of deployment on a territory with a striking force in connection with wide transdisciplinarity, “Santo 2006” paved the way for the expeditions of “La Planète revisitée”.

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Change of scale and new tools


Traditionally, taxonomic expertise is based on the accumulation of knowledge and personal experience. However, with the acceleration of the loss of biodiversity, the time of solitary naturalists is over and the time of big teams and great programmes has come. In addition to the traditional pitfalls, now other devices have arose on the basis of new technologies. Barcoding which aims at characterising each species with a specific ADN sequence added to the naturalist’s kit. And programmes and international networks have been established, such as the Census of Marine Life which coordinates the activities of the biological exploration of the oceans or the consortium EDIT (European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy) which contains all the big museums of natural history and big botanical gardens, in order to share the large amount of data collected by the researchers.
The marine component of this first row of expeditions of “La Planète Revisitée” will be divided into two modules of exploration – one onshore and the other one in the deep sea. The first one will largely be realised in the extreme South of the island while the second one will take place in the Mozambique Channel.