Earthwatch Oman

  Earthwatch is working with Oman’s National Field Research Centre for Environmental Conservation (part of the Diwan of the Royal Court) to develop a number of field research projects in Oman. These are based in Jabal Samhan in the Dhofar mountain range, Wadi As Sareen in the Eastern Hajar mountains and Jabal al Akhdar in the Western Hajar mountains. We are working with Earthwatch to deliver field training courses and plant identifcation to support this programme. We’ve trained over 60 Omani participants in botanical fieldwork awarding them with RBGE’s Certificate in Practical Field Botany. Courses included training in digital photographic techniques towards the production of field guides for plant identification.

Developing capacity for in situ conservation in Iraq

Iraq is facing major threats to its biodiversity following years of unstable government, breakdown in traditional land management and more recently rapid development. Almost 30 years of scientific isolation has resulted in limited in-country capacity to deal with these threats. At present the only organisation in Iraq actively engaged in conservation work is Nature Iraq, who have adopted the Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) approach to identifying biodiversity-rich regions. Since 2005 BirdLife International has been supporting this work, conducting surveys and running training courses in collaboration with Nature Iraq. More recently, CMEP (part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh) has also been working with Nature Iraq to develop botanical training in Iraq. These activities have involved staff and students alongside personnel from major Iraqi organisations with an interest in the environment including the major Universities and Ministries in both Iraq and the Kurdish Autonomous Region (KAR). The birds of the region are relatively well known and progress in identifying KBAs based on bird data has been good. However, plants are relatively poorly known and there is a lack of appropriate identification tools. Flora of Iraq and Flora Iranica, the two floras covering the region, are almost complete; but, it has been found on recent training courses, they are linguistically and technically almost totally inaccessible to Iraqi professionals and students. Conservation work in Iraq cannot wait for the completion of these Floras or their conversion into more user-friendly formats. To address the lack of plant data available to inform conservation planning in Iraq and to build capacity for surveying and managing biodiversity-rich areas, the project partners have together identified three overlapping and complementary areas of work:
  1. Collection of botanical data to build capacity for conservation.
  2. Capacity building in Protected Area Management.
  3. Training in foundation skills in botany, ornithology and conservation.
  Find out more about the project at


Developing biodiversity conservation in urban Istanbul

Nezahat Gökyiğit Botanik Bahcesi (NGBB) is a small botanic garden situated in a motorway intersection in a residential area of Istanbul. Since 2004 RBGE have contributed to the development of NGBB, through strategic planning, capacity building and training in horticulture, collections management and botanical art.

Surrounded by high rise apartment blocks, NGBB provides a vital green space for local residents and visitors. Although small, it delivers all the principal elements of a botanic garden. One of the most popular gardens in Istanbul, it has a beautiful collection of mainly Turkish plants, including wild collected geophytes. NGBB’s educational programs for local school children are aimed at producing the next generation of environmentalists.

Initial funding for RBGE’s collaborative involvement with NGBB came via a UK Darwin Initiative project to develop the capacity of this fledgling garden. Staff exchanges and collaboration has continued beyond the life of the original project. Recent collaborations include horticultural training as well as botanical artwork. Botanical artists from NGBB are currently providing the artwork for a major new RBGE publication on Chilean plants.

Socotra Botanic Garden

Developing conservation capacity on Socotra

CMEP is helping to build capacity at the small Socotra Botanic Garden in Hadibo. The garden is an important resource for local conservation, education and awareness programmes.

In 2007 SBG staff participated in horticultural training at RBGE, completing the Certificate in Practical Horticulture. This training is being continued at the SBG by CMEP staff. 

CMEP has provided the garden with equipment and materials needed for better plant maintenance and record keeping, as well as seeds of important endemic species collected on early RBGE expeditions to Socotra. Species such as the Critically Endangered Pelargonium insularis have now been returned to Socotra and are being grown at SBG.

Several new displays have been created at the garden including some which replicate natural habitat areas. A new succulent garden has been created, containing the majority of succulent plants found across the islands.

Plants are grown using local materials and recycled waste such as empty water bottles. 

Thanks to this partnership, SBG has grown into a globally significant collection of endemic and endangered Socotran species. SBG has also developed its involvement in several other Socotran conservation projects including the Homhil Soil Restoration Project.

Key Biodiversity Areas in Iraq

Locating and protecting important sites for biodiversity

Nature Iraq’s Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) program aims to create an Iraq National Inventory of Important Sites of biological diversity. CMEP is assisting the KBA program through capacity building and surveying in northern Iraq.

The KBA project aims to locate and assess important sites for birds, mammals and plants. The KBA survey program for plants has been running in Iraq since 2007. To date, surveys have been undertaken in the southern marshlands and in the northern mountains of Sulaimani, Erbil and Dohuk governorates. 

Since 2009, CMEP has assisted Nature Iraq with botanical KBA surveys, data management, plant identifications, and training for conservationists and botanists in Sulaimani governorate.

In May 2010, CMEP ran a 10 day training course on Qara Dagh for 10 participants from Nature Iraq, Baghdad University, Twin Rivers Institute and Sulaimani University. This training course covered survey design, field skills, data management and plant collecting.

In June 2010, CMEP participated in a detailed botanical survey of Piramagroon. Project partners will use this data in the KBA selection and prioritisation process for Iraq.