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Important Plant Areas of Libya

Number of IPAs: 5

Desert with oasis

Plant diversity

Libya occupies an area of about 1.7 million km2 most of which is desert. The most important areas for plant diversity are the coastal strip and mountains of the Mediterranean coastline (1900km).

In total there are approximately 1,750 plant species in Libya, 4% of which are Libyan endemics. Phytogeographically, the flora is predominantly Mediterranean, with strong links to the Eastern Mediterranean (Palestine to Greece), more so than with the rest of North Africa; particularly strong are the links to Crete. Approximately 50% of the Libyan endemics are endemic to Cyrenaica.

Important Plant Areas

5 IPAs have been identified in Libya to date: Al Jabal Al Akhdar, Tawuorgha Sebka, Jabal Nafusah, Jabal Aweinat and Messak mountain with a further 5 that require study to confirm their status as internationally significant sites for plants (Alheesha, Farwa Island, Mamarica, Jabal Al Harouj and Benghazi coast).

IPAs in Libya are found in the coastal, mountain and desert habitat types. Al Jabal Al Akhdar IPA (The Green Mountain) in the Cyrenaica region of northeast Libya is the largest and most significant IPA in Libya. The unique physiographic and climatic conditions which isolate the mountains of Cyrenaican from the rest of Libya, have resulted in Al Jabal Al Akhdar holding 75 – 80% of the Libyan flora and a significant proportion of Libya’s endemic plant species, despite only covering 1% of the Libyan territory.

The other confirmed Libyan IPAs include the hot springs and open canals of Tawuorgha and the limestone formations of Jabal Nafusah IPA which stretch 500km from the Tunisian border to the Niggaza area on the Mediterranean coast. The latter encompasses a recently established national park Sha afeen.


Libyan IPAs face several threats including development of tourism infrastructure, overgrazing of livestock, forest cutting for wood and charcoal and the spread of invasive alien species. Unregulated development at the coast is a particular threat. Planning processes are erratic and environmental impact assessments (although required by law) are seldom completed or adhered to.

Further information

Important Plant Areas of the south and east Mediterranean region

Find Libya on pages 36-39