The South Pacific Regional Herbarium (SPRH), previously known as the Fiji Herbarium, was established in 1933 by botanist B. E. V. Parham of the Fiji Department of Agriculture. The University of the South Pacific, through the Institute of Applied Sciences, assumed responsibility for the maintenance and administration of the facility in 1982. It serves the university’s twelve member countries and is a member of a global network of herbaria, and bears the international herbarium code ‘SUVA’.
The SPRH acts as a repository for permanent voucher specimens of plants that are representative of the flora of the Pacific Islands region, including those plant species that are unique, rare, and threatened. It is an important reference collection and storehouse of information pertaining to taxonomy, conservation, ecology, climate change, and ethnobotany of the Pacific Island plants. It maintains an extensive collection of preserved and identified plant specimens from around the region and currently houses more than 80,000 plant specimens.
Services provided by the SPRH include plant identification, biodiversity assessment surveys, para-taxonomy training in botany, environmental impact assessment of plants, conservation of endangered plants and their ecosystems, and vegetation ecology research and monitoring. The SPRH is headed by the curator, Marika Tuiwawa, a botanist and ecologist with more than thirty years’ experience in Fiji and the Pacific. His team is comprised of local specialists in a wide range of taxa including vascular plants, bryophytes, birds, bats, freshwater fish and invertebrates, insects, reptiles and amphibians.
Since its establishment in 1933 the SPRH has become an important reference collection and botanical information storehouse, with an extensive collection of preserved and identified plant specimens from Fiji and the region. The vascular plant collection is comprised of specimens from Fiji, Nauru, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Pitcairn, Norfolk Island, Tonga, Samoa and Solomon Islands. This includes specimens deposited by renown botanists B.E.V Parham, John W. Parham, A. C. Smith, S. Vodonaivalu, D. Koroiveibau, A. Sundaresan, S. Siwatibau, M. J. Berry, G. Brownlie, G. Webster, R. Hildreth, I. T. Kurivoli, P. B. Tomlinson, H. E. Parks, H. St. John, H. E. Moore, O. Degener, D. Anderson, S. Nand, H. R. Hughes, E. Zogg, D. Norris, J. Ash, P. Cox, H. Manner, D. Hassal, and R. Thaman.
Also, the small bryophyte collection includes specimens from Fiji, Cook
Islands, Samoa and Solomon Islands. The most notable deposits of the bryophytes are the liverwort specimens, particularly those of the Lejeuneaceae family that were collected and identified by a well-respected bryologist, Tamás Pócs. Collectively the SPRH consists of more than 50,000 plant specimens and 3000 bryophyte specimens.
Additionally, over the years the scope of work of the SPRH has expanded to include housing fauna specimens, with significant collections being made of both vertebrate and invertebrate species. The SPRH houses close to 8000 insect specimens, 200 herpetofauna (amphibians & reptiles) specimens and 100 bird specimens. The freshwater vertebrate and invertebrate specimens are housed together with the marine specimens at the School of Marine Studies Marine Collection.