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.

Oman Mountain Project

The mountains of Oman are dramatic and beautiful. They are also in places extremely remote and inaccessible. At first sight they seem an unpromising place to find plants however they are home to a surprisingly rich and varied flora. For example, over a third of Oman’s flora has been recorded from the the Western Hajar mountains including 14 Omani endemic species. Oman’s Department of Economic Planning Affairs invited CMEP to survey 15 of Oman’s highest mountains as part of a multidisciplinary team. Most of these mountains had not been previously surveyed by botanists. The project concentrated on the remoter mountains of the Eastern and Western Hajar range, including the isolated sumits of Jabal Qahwan and Jabal Kawr. As well as visiting Isolated Mountains in the Interior (sometimes referred to as the Isolated Hajar Mountains).  

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.

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.

Flora of Arabia

Describing the plants of the Arabian Peninsula & Socotra

The Flora of Arabia will contain definitive descriptions of the 3500 – 4000 plant species in the Arabian Peninsula countries of Saudi Arabia, Yemen (including Socotra), Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait.

CMEP staff edit and produce technical descriptions for the Flora of Arabia. Gathering data for the Flora program requires regular expeditions to the Arabian Peninsula. Since 1996, CMEP over 50 CMEP surveys have collected the necessary data to describe the complex plants, habitats and environments of the Arabian Peninsula. This data can be used for environmental impact assessments, habitat monitoring, climate change studies and restoration projects.

Two volumes of the Flora are currently published. Volume I was published in 1996 and covered pteridophytes, gymnosperms and angiosperm families from Casuarinaceae to Neuradaceae. Volume V part I contains all 470 grass species (Poaceae), and was published in September 2007.