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 Archipelago

Protecting the land of the Dragon’s blood tree

The Socotra Archipelago UNESCO World Heritage Site is an area of outstanding biological diversity, natural beauty and cultural heritage. Since 1989 CMEP have been at the forefront of ecological research and planning on this unique archipelago.


CMEP has produced definitive publications on the Socotran environment, including The Ethnoflora of the Soqotra Archipelago.

Conservation Planning

CMEP holds an extensive database of plant habitats and species distributions across the Archipelago. This has contributed directly to several major conservation planning documents, including the Conservation Zoning Plan (1999) and the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation of 2008.

Surveying and Monitoring

CMEP have conducted numerous Environmental Impact Assessments on Socotra, particularly in relation to development and road building.

A network of over 70 monitoring sites has been established across the Archipelago. These are being monitored in relation to development, grazing and climate change. CMEP has also established monitoring programmes for endangered species e.g. Duvaliandra dioscoridis.

Building Capacity

We have an on-going programme of building capacity with local conservation workers. CMEP training covers plant identification, data collection and survey techniques. A continuing programme of training is also taking place at the Socotra Botanic Garden.


CMEP provide assistance to a local soil restoration project initiated by the Geographical Institute at the University of Tübingen.

Important Plant Areas in Arabia

Identifying the most important sites for wild plant diversity

Over 100 provisional Important Plant Area (IPA) sites have been identified in Saudi Arabia, Oman & Yemen. CMEP is engaged with project partners in surveying and producing final assessments of these sites as IPAs. IPA programs are a response to Target V of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. Target V states ‘Protection of 50 per cent of the most important areas for plant diversity assured.’ Data from IPA habitat and species surveys is intended to inform this conservation planning process. In Saudi Arabia, a number of IPA sites have been proposed as protected areas. To date, IPA full site assessments have been published, on Jibal Qaraqir, the Farasan Islands, Uruq Bani Ma’arid and Jabal Aja’. CMEP developed criteria for IPA selection in Arabia with the IUCN Arabian Plant Specialist Group. Criteria for the Arabian region specifically include relict species and refugia for connectivity and climate change mitigation. They also target traditional protected areas (himas in Saudi Arabia, hamiyah in Oman) for inclusion in the network.

Oman Botanic Garden

Developing a world class botanic garden

The Oman Botanic Garden (OBG) is a new world-class development celebrating the unique plants & environments of Oman. Since 2005 CMEP has provided planning & design, landscaping, surveying and capacity building services to this groundbreaking project.

CMEP has contributed a wide range of services to the OBG project, including:

  • detailed habitat design & implementation advice
  • habitat surveys
  • OBG site surveys
  • nursery design & management
  • arid lands horticulture
  • horticultural & botanical training

Currently under construction, the 420 ha project will be the largest botanic garden in the Arabian Peninsula. It will showcase Oman’s 1200 plant species in a series of habitats from the dry central deserts to the rich monsoon woodlands of Dhofar.

The Oman Botanic Garden aims to promote and demonstrate best practice in sustainability, through the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification process. This iconic sustainable garden will become a unique destination for local and international visitors.


Improving Afghan capacity for environmental protection

Afghanistan is home to between 3500-5000 plant species, 15-20% of which are endemic. Protecting this rich plant biodiversity is vital to safeguarding ecosystem services and the economy of this largely rural country. Since 2009, CMEP have been assisting national and international efforts towards biodiversity research and conservation. To date, CMEP work in Afghanistan has involved strategic planning and capacity building.

Afghanistan faces numerous environmental challenges as it emerges from decades of conflict. As a recent signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Afghanistan is committed to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. This includes commitments to in-situ conservation, ex-situ conservation, scientific research and monitoring. Helping to strengthen the national capabilities of developing countries like Afghanistan is an obligation of all Contracting Parties to CBD.

CMEP is working with a range of partners in Afghanistan to assist the implementation of biodiversity conservation, through:

  • Developing an ex situ conservation strategy for the Kabul University Botanical Garden
  • Providing training and support for IUCN Red Listing
  • Implementing a training programme in biodiversity research skills at Kabul University