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User Documentation for ANHSIR

The Papuasian region

The Australian National Herbarium (ANH) primarily has specimens collected from Australia and its territories, but also houses a large collection of specimens from Papua New Guinea. To increase the utility of this PNG resource, all specimens collected from Papuasia are geocoded, but not necessarily at the data entry stage. Geocodes are calculated for Papuasian records at a later stage, by viewing the ANHSIR record, unless being databased from a field note book, where a label will be printed.

Papuasia is a botanical region consisting of a variety of political assemblages:

  1. the country Papua New Guinea (PNG),
  2. the province Papua (formerly Irian Jaya and West Papua), part of the country Indonesia,
  3. Aru Islands (also known as Aroe Islands and Kepulauan Aru), part of the Maluku (Moluccas) province, of the country Indonesia, and
  4. the country Solomon Islands.

Expressed geographically, Papuasia consists of the island of New Guinea (PNG in the east and Indonesia in the west), the Bismarck Archipelago (PNG), the Solomon Islands ‘archipelago’ [PNG (Bougainville Province) in the north and Solomon Islands (the country) in the south], the Aru Islands (Indonesia); and various smaller islands within the conglomerate.

The Papuasian political assemblages

The country Papua New Guinea (eastern half of the island New Guinea) is an amalgamation of the old Australian ‘territory’ Papua, and the German ‘territory’ New Guinea. Specimens collected in PNG may have Papua, East New Guinea, Territory of New Guinea (TNG), Territory of Papua and New Guinea, NE New Guinea or just New Guinea recorded on their labels. PNG includes the Admiralty Islands (Manus Province), the Bismarck Archipelago (New Britain and New Ireland), Bougainville, and other smaller island archipelagos of Milne Bay Province.

Papua (western half of the island New Guinea) is the current province name for the land parcel previously known as Irian Jaya and West Papua. Specimens collected from Papua province may have West Papua, Irian Jaya, West New Guinea, Division of West New Guinea, Netherlands (Dutch) New Guinea, West Irian or just New Guinea on their labels. Papua province incorporates many small islands adjacent to the island of New Guinea, the main ones being: Yos Sudarso, Biak, Japen, Waigeo and Misool.

The ANH probably only has several dozen specimens from Aru Islands (also Aroe Islands or Kepulauan Aru), Maluku (Moluccas) province, Indonesia.

The main provinces/islands making up the Solomon Islands are: Choisel, New Georgia Islands, Santa Isabel, Malaita, Guadalcanal, San Cristabal (Makira) and Santa Cruz Islands. Whilst the Santa Cruz Islands are politically part of the Solomon Islands, they are not part of the botanical region Papuasia. However, for simplicity and completeness we treat these specimens the same as all other Solomon Island specimens (there are very few of them).

Deciphering from which country within New Guinea a specimen was collected

It can be confusing as to which ‘half’ of the island of New Guinea a specimen has been collected from. The following hints should help decipher the collection country for the majority of specimens:

  1. all specimens with a BW collection number were collected from Papua province (Indonesia), and
  2. all specimens with a LAE, NGF or UPNG collection number were collected in PNG; unless the label states otherwise.
  3. the vast majority of specimens collected by CSIRO staff in New Guinea are from what is now PNG.
  4. collection numbers beginning with BSIP (British Solomon Islands Protectorate) were collected from the Solomon Islands.

ANHSIR data entry

New Guinea is not a political country. Please do not enter ‘New Guinea’ in the ANHSIR ‘country’ field.

For specimens collected from Papua province, enter INDONESIA in the country field, and select ‘PPA’ from the region code look-up table. If a previous province name is mentioned on the label, please type it verbatim into the locality field. The region code PPA reflects the current province name, and therefore you do not need to include the current name in the locality field.

For specimens collected from PNG, enter ‘PAPUA NEW GUINEA’ in the country field and select either ‘P’ if there is no province/district on the label, or the appropriate specific region code where a province/district is mentioned. If an old country name is mentioned, please type it verbatim into the locality field.

Use the appropriate ANHSIR region code for specimens collected from PNG. All currently and formerly recognised PNG ‘regions’ have a code available in the region code look-up table. Please use these codes where appropriate, to save keystrokes. If you are in doubt about the wording on the label, as to whether or not the code is appropriate, type out the text as it appears on the label, and just select ‘P’ (PNG - without a specific province/district) from the ANHSIR region code lookup table. PNG ‘regions’ may be recorded on labels as provinces or districts (‘district’ seems to be an older term).

The key thing to remember is to enter the ‘province/district’ written on the label. PNG provinces/districts have changed names and boundaries over time. Some of the 'provinces' in the ANHSIR region code look up table are 'current', others are not. It is far too complex to work out, from a label, the current province/district. For example, there is an 'old' Southern Highlands Province/District, and a 'new' one. The new one is about half the size of the old one. We are just using the codes as short hand, to reflect what is on the label. Anything that mentions 'sub-district' should not be taken as a ‘region’, but anything mentioning ‘Province’ or ‘District’ can. Below (under the next heading) is a rough history of how old province/district names correlate with new ones.

As mentioned above, for specimens from Papua province (Indonesia), use the code 'PPA' (initials for Papuasia, Papua). There is also a region code for specimens from the Aru Islands or Kepulauan Aru, 'PAI' (initials for Papuasia, Aru Islands). The herbarium has very few specimens from this island group (there appears to only be ten in ANHSIR at the moment!), but for completeness, I have mentioned it. See if you can remember to use it if you ever get one….

An approximate history of PNG provinces/districts

Unfortunately, PNG province boundaries (like the villages) seem to migrate with time, but the following is roughly true:

- Enga Province approximately represents the western half of the old Western Highlands Province.
- The new Western Highlands Province approximately represents the eastern half of the old Western Highlands Province.
- Simbu Province approximately represents the western half of the old Eastern Highlands Province, but also incorporates some of the old Southern Highlands Province.

- The new Eastern Highlands Province approximately represents the eastern half of the old Eastern Highlands Province.
- Sandaun Province (pidgin for ‘sun down’ – it is in the western part of PNG, where the sun sets!) is a newer name for West Sepik Province.
- Simbu Province is the pidgin and newer name for Chimbu Province.
- The early Sepik and New Britain provinces have each been split into an E and W province (East Sepik, West Sepik, East New Britain, West New Britain).
- Oro Province is the newer name for Northern Province.
- North Solomons Province is the newer name for Bougainville Province.

Geocoding resources

For Papuasia localities, the two most useful resources are:

- ‘Complete PNG Gazetteer’ – a zip file that can be emailed to you, and
- Microsoft Encarta – a world atlas that can be installed on your PC,

The following may also be useful:

- Worldwide Directory of Cities and Towns -
- Global Gazetteer –
- On your PC: P-Drive – ANH – ANH_Resources – New Guinea localities – New Guinea localities – an in house compilation WORD file (a last resort option).


Updated 22 September, 2010 , webmaster, CANBR (