Biologist on a mission to save earth's flora

If Noah - he of the Ark and the animals two by two - had a modern-day twin, it would be Professor Li Chia-wei.

The Taiwanese biologist, 62, is on a life's mission to collect as many living plant specimens as he possibly can so the earth may have a chance to recover the species it loses.

Prof Li, whose love for plants started at a young age, set up the Dr Cecilia Koo Botanic Conservation Centre in Pingtung County, southern Taiwan, in 2007.

There, he and his team of more than 20 collection managers and technicians scout for plants from all over the world - from as far as South America and the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific - which they then propagate. Some are also cultivated into hybrids in greenhouses.

Today, the centre boasts the largest living collection of plants in the world, with more than 27,000 species of begonias, ferns and orchids, among others. Not only does it provide a physical repository of plants, but its propagation efforts, if successful, could also help reintroduce plants back into the wild, he said.

Click here to read the full article at The Straits Times

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