Congrès Mondial des Études sur le Moyen-Orient et l'Afrique du Nord

Barcelone du 19 au 24 Juillet 2010


CONSERVING BIODIVERSITY IN THE MIDDLE EAST - 1/5: Important Areas for Biodiversity in the Middle East (036) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED institution: Centre for Middle Eastern Plants - part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (United Kingdom)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Tony Miller

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: The Middle East is not simply a barren desert. At the crossroads of Asia, Europe and Africa, this region harbours a great diversity of natural ecosystems from mountain grasslands and juniper woodlands to tropical forests and mangroves. As well as habitat diversity, there is great species richness and endemism in this region. The Middle East is home to five of the world’s ‘biodiversity hotspots’ (Irano-Anatolian, Horn of Africa, Afromontane, Mediterranean Basin, Caucasus) - as well as hundreds of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) and Important Plant Areas (IPAs) which are regionally and globally important sites for biodiversity conservation. This panel will explore contemporary issues surrounding biodiversity assessments in the Middle East and will present a number of case studies concerning some of the most important sites for biodiversity conservation in the region.

Chair: Tony Miller, Centre for Middle Eastern Plants - part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Paper presenter: Paul Scholte, UNDP, Some Like it Hot; Biodiversity Hotspots Concepts in the Middle East
Biodiversity hotspots have become a major tool to direct global conservation efforts. The originally proposed 25 hotspots included two in the Middle East (Mediterranean, Caucasus) that, in 2005, were extended to 34, adding three in the Middle East (Irano-Anatolien, Horn of Africa, Eastern Afro-Montane). The Horn of Africa Hotspot includes most of Tropical Arabia, including the Coastal Plains, Western and Southern Lower and Middle Altitude Mountains, the Socotra Archipelago but excluding the Highlands. I question, however, its extension into the Eastern Plains and East of Dhofar. The E. Afromontane (AM) Hotspot, based on the AM Archipelago-like Regional Centre of Endemism (RCE), extends from the Eastern African Rift and Highlands into the outlying Asir (South of Jeddah-Medina) and Yemen Highlands. Its lower limit is generally at 1800 m, in extremely arid areas probably higher, in humid areas (e.g. Ibb) down to 1600 m and exceptionally as low as 800m (Socotra). The AM RCE on which the AM hotspot is founded, has been questioned by recent analysis of plant distributions. Linking Arabian databases with these African studies would help clarifying the Arabian situation. To raise the image of Arabian conservation, the presence of these hotspots is a timely opportunity, amongst others to stimulate the presence of conservation NGOs. Yet a change in the African biased names, e.g. from the ‘Horn of Africa’ into a ‘Horn of Africa-SW Arabia’ or, more exciting, ‘Incense’ hotspot, will be conditional to draw necessary (regional) support.

Paper presenter: Abdul Wali Al Khulaidi’, CMEP - part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh & Agricultural and Research Extension Authority, Taiz Important Plant Areas in Yemen
Authors: Matthew Hall and Abdul Wali Al Khulaidi’
Following the implementation of Important Plant Area (IPA) initiatives in Europe and Southern Africa, the IUCN Arabian Plant Specialist Group has initiated an Important Plant Area (IPA) project for the Arabian Peninsula. The aim of this programme is to assess hotspots of plant diversity in the region and designate the most important as Important Plant Areas. These assessments are conducted on the basis of specific criteria including the presence of endemic, near endemic or range restricted species, species rich habitats and threatened vegetation. The preliminary identification of Arabian IPA’s is on course for completion in 2010. Here we present the initial results of the IPA project in Yemen, the most species rich country in the Arabian Peninsula. This paper details the features of some of the most significant IPA sites in Yemen and also discusses prominent socio-economic issues and conservation threats.

Paper presenter: Yakub El Barasi & Mouneim Barrani, Garyounis University & High Institute of Agricultural Sciences, El Marj, North eastern Libya: Threats to Plant Diversity
EL-Jabal EL-Akhadar, in north east Libya, holds more than 1300 plant species, over 70% of the total number of species in the Libyan flora. This is the most important site for wild plant diversity in Libya, and is proposed as a Key Biodiversity for the Mediterranean on the basis of its high percentage of endemic plant species. The greatest concentration of endemic plant species are found in the many wadi valleys which dissect the limestone plateau. Wadi valleys harbouring significant stands of Juniperus and mixed Mediterranean woodland face a number of threats including over collecting of medicinal plant species, overgrazing by livestock and collection of fuel wood. Agricultural expansion and forest clearing for charcoal production are serious threats to tree cover, both on EL-Jabal EL-Akhadar and the nearby Marmarica plateau. This paper will examine these threats to the wild plant diversity of EL-Jabal EL-Akhadar and discuss methods for alleviating their impact on the biodiversity of this important site for wild plant conservation

Paper presenter: Nabeel Abdul Hassan, Nature Iraq, Key Biodiversity Areas in Iraq
Nature Iraq has been conducting biological surveys throughout Iraq for the last five years under a project called the Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) Project. These are the largest and most comprehensive surveys to take place in Iraq in well over twenty-five years. Under the KBA Project of Iraq, Nature Iraq, in coordination with the Iraqi Ministry of Environment (Federal) and the Kurdistan Ministry of Environment (Regional), has visited over one hundred sites throughout Iraq to survey for plants, bird, fish, mammal, reptiles, and water quality. Birds have received the primary focus of the KBA survey work but botany work has developed to become (in combination with the other components of KBA) the foundation for habitat assessment, site evaluation and prioritization. This presentation will provide an overview of this continuing, iterative process that allows for the refining of data, the survey of an expanded area with time and improved security and the delineation of potential protected areas in the country.