Who we are: the Botanical Institute of Barcelona

If you have been following us for some days, you will already know that LIFE medCLIFFS is an initiative co-funded by the LIFE Programme of the European Union and promoted by several public and private entities.

The LIFE medCLIFFS consortium brings together research and scientific dissemination institutions, the competent territorial administration in the field of invasive plant management, the plant production sector and also civil society.

With the WHO WE ARE section of the blog, which we are starting today, we would like you to get to know each of these entities and the people involved in the project. First of all, we would like to introduce you to the entity coordinating the project, the CSIC-IBB, that is, the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) through one of its centres, the Botanical Institute of Barcelona (IBB).

What is the Botanical Institute of Barcelona?

The CSIC-IBB (Spanish National Research Council) is one of the two institutions that make up the joint centre known in general terms as the Institut Botànic de Barcelona (IBB). The other entity that forms part of this consortium is the Barcelona City Council through the Museum of Natural Sciences of Barcelona (MCNB), also a member of LIFE medCLIFFS. The relationship between the two organisations goes back a long way.



Initially, the IBB was founded as an autonomous entity in 1934 as a result of the segregation of the Botany section of the Museum of Natural Sciences by the well-known botanist Pius Font i Quer, who was its director.

In 1942, Pius Font i Quer created the post of head scientist at the IBB, which was the first intervention of the CSIC in the IBB. However, it was not until 1986 that IBB was constituted as a centre of the CSIC. Later, in 1998, it signed an agreement with the Barcelona City Council to become a joint centre that maintains the autonomy of its two entities.

As a result of this agreement, in 2003 the CSIC began work on the current building that houses the IBB, located at the top of the Botanical Garden of Barcelona, in Montjuïc.

Considering the scientific relevance and volume of its collections, the IBB is the second largest botanical centre in Spain.


The IBB has the BC Herbarium, which comprises nearly 800,000 herbarium sheets and specialises in the flora of the western Mediterranean. This Herbarium is part of the MCNB, is the first in importance in Catalonia and the third in Spain.

The BC Herbarium also houses the plant specimens generated as a result of the centre’s research and projects. This is the case of the non-native plants sampled in 2022 on the Costa Brava to determine the baseline situation of the LIFE medCLIFFS project.

The IBB houses an important documentary collection consisting of an archive and a library specialising in Mediterranean flora, ecology, landscaping, gardening and conservation. It also conserves the Salvador’s Cabinet, one of the few naturalist collections of the Enlightenment that has survived to the present day. It also has a plant nursery managed by the Botanical Garden of Barcelona, which is responsible for maintaining the IBB’s scientific collections of living plants.

Research areas

The IBB is currently organised into four research groups: Biodiversity and plant evolution, Evolutionary biology, genome organisation and plant uses, Native and non-native flora: diversity, collections and conservation, and Entomology and insect-plant interactions. These groups are participated both by CSIC-IBB and MCNB staff.

Who is behind LIFE medCLIFFS at IBB?

The CSIC-IBB is the coordinating beneficiary at LIFE medCLIFFS, with Sònia Garcia and Jordi López-Pujol as principal investigators. Other members of the CSIC-IBB team are Teresa Garnatje, Carlos Gómez-Bellver and Roi Rodríguez, as technical staff, and Roser Melero, as project manager.

As for the MCNB, Neus Ibáñez, curator and head of the Scientific Collections, and Neus Nualart, curator, researcher and deputy director of the IBB, are involved.

Sònia Garcia, LIFE medCLIFFS coordinator, during an informative talk.

Apart from the general coordination, CSIC-IBB and MCNB staff work together in the coordination of the citizen science networks of the project (Observers Network and Volunteers Network), in the training of volunteers and in the dissemination of the project, both to the general and professional public. They are also in charge of validating, analysing and processing the data on invasive alien flora collected by the project’s volunteers in order to model the risk of invasion of the project’s species. Some of them are actively involved in the creation of prevention tools (checklists and code of conduct) and others are responsible for the design of monitoring activities to assess the impact of the project, general communication, technical dissemination and networking, and the replicability and transferability of the results generated by LIFE medCLIFFS.