Conserving wild plants and habitats for people across the Mediterranean

30 October 2014 | International Union for Conservation of Nature News Release

The IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation and Plantlife International are beginning a new project to further the conservation of wild plants and their habitats in the South and East Mediterranean. The project “Conserving wild plants and habitats for people in the South and East Mediterranean (IPA-Med)” has been launched today at the kick off workshop held in Montenegro.

This project represents an ambitious initiative to develop save wild plants in the South and East of the Mediterranean region combining the experience and expertise of Plantlife International and IUCN and partner organisations in 11 Mediterranean countries.

Experts will document the conservation status and distribution of selected rare and threatened plant species and habitats on ‘Important Plant Areas’ especially in those countries with where information is insufficient, out of date or absent. This will be used to target conservation actions and secure the future of these incredible places for wild plants.

Today conservation organisations from the Balkans and Turkey started the work in Ulicnj, Montenegro on the Long Beach and Ada Bojana IPA, the most extensive natural sand dune system in on the east cost of the Adriatic. Important threatened species such as Calystegia soldanella and Pancratium maritimum are found there. This IPA is threatened by the development of a massive hotel complex which, if allowed to go ahead, will threaten the unique vegetation.

Elsewhere during this three year project all partners will undertake plant conservation activities on 20 Important Plant Areas in six countries (Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, Montenegro, Turkey, and Macedonia) involving a range of stakeholders including civil society, research institutions and public administrations. Development, land abandonment, overgrazing and over-exploitation; the major region-wide threats to wild plants and habitats, will be addressed through these management actions to secure livelihoods, to safeguard the critically threatened plants for the future. A network of conservationists across the region will work together to raise the profile of IPAs in all Mediterranean territories.

“At the end of the project we believe all these sites will be better protected from damaging influences, their resources will be safeguarded and their status as Important Plant Areas will secured for the long term”, says Bertrand de Montmollin, Chair of Mediterranean Plants Specialist Group of IUCN SSC.

The Mediterranean basin is one of the world’s major hotspots of plant diversity, with 10% of the world’s higher plants. The flora has around 25,000 species with exceptionally high endemicity; approximately 13,000 species are found only within the Mediterranean region. Many of the Important Plant Areas in the Mediterranean region contain plants that support livelihoods, it is critical that these plant resources are managed properly to secure the livelihoods they support for the long term alongside safeguarding the biodiversity.

This project will be funded by the MAVA Foundation and with components supported by EuropeAid and the Ernest Kleinwort Foundation.


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