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The 28th UN Climate Conference of Parties has just drawn to a close in Dubai, during which there had been fierce negotiations over the future of fossil fuels.

In the early hours of this morning the gavel went down and 198 governments agreed to “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner… so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science”. This wording is not as strong as we had hoped, but it is the first time fossil fuels have ever been explicitly mentioned in a final agreement (in almost 30 years of climate COPs) and as the UN Climate Chief Simon Stiell said, it is the ‘beginning of the end’ for fossil fuels.

This issue is at the heart of climate action and this agreement was long overdue.

COP28 in Dubai

What else was decided?

There are other key outcomes from this COP which give us reasons for hope:

  • The first ever Global Stock Take includes references to the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework – the link between biodiversity loss and the climate crisis and ‘protecting, conserving and restoring nature…’ using not only science but Indigenous Peoples knowledge.
  • The newly established Loss and Damage fund, which if you will recall was implemented on the very first day of the conference, making it an historic moment. This fund now sits at $792 million which will go to developing nations in need, recognising that they have been most affected by climate impacts.
  • The Global Goal on Adaptation, designed to “ensure an adequate adaptation response” to protect people, livelihoods and ecosystems, talks about the multi-stakeholder approach to adaptation needed, using knowledge from different sectors of society.

Successes for biodiversity, food and farming

More specifically focused on the intertwined climate and nature crises, we welcome two new initiatives coming out of this COP.

1.COP28 UAE Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action

The acknowledgement and recognition of the adverse impacts of climate change on agriculture and food systems, and on billions of people including smallholders that are dependent on their resilience for food and livelihoods, is a great step in the right direction. Just two years ago, there was little or no mention of this issue, yet 158 governments endorsed the Declaration at COP28.

2. COP28 Joint Statement on Climate, Nature and People 

This was an absolutely vital step in ensuring the climate and biodiversity crises are no longer considered as separate issues. We have known for a long time that they are fundamentally and intrinsically linked, and this is the first step in connecting the outcomes of the UNFCCC COP28 and the recently adopted Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

This announcement was made: ‘At COP28 during Nature, Land Use and Ocean Day, we affirm that there is no path to fully achieve the near- and long-term goals of the Paris Agreement or the 2030 goals and targets of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework without urgently addressing climate change, biodiversity loss and land degradation together in a coherent, synergetic and holistic manner, in accordance with the best available science.’

Eighteen governments have endorsed this declaration so far and we need to see many more signing up to this joined-up approach in the weeks ahead.

bird standing in a field of grass

We’re going to keep talking about grasslands

At Plantlife, we work tirelessly to bring the value of grasslands to the forefront of conversations around farming, nature, biodiversity and climate, both in the UK and internationally. Covering more than half the Earth’s land surface and with the livelihoods of around 800 million people depending on them, the importance of grasslands and savannahs cannot be underestimated.

More generally, this COP marked a turning point for the role of Indigenous Peoples and the recognition of their contribution in not only safeguarding 80% of the world’s biodiversity, but their knowledge in living in true harmony with nature. Adopting this way of thinking will be a pivotal step in combating the climate crisis. Plantlife is aware of the importance of Indigenous knowledge particularly when it comes to Important Plant Areas (IPAs), with one of the criteria for identification being related to cultural significance.

You can read more about IPAs here specifically the Chiquitano people of Bolivia who identified 18 IPA sites to protect the Chiquitano dry forest which many of the community depend on for their food and livelihoods.

It is safe to say there was a healthy dose of concern and scepticism about this COP. What would come out of it? Would this be ambitious enough to secure a safe future for generations to come – from large cities in the Global North to the Small Island Developing States on the frontline of the climate crisis? The reference to fossil fuels and the language in the final text can be considered a win, but now we look to parties to solidify the ‘how’ and the ‘when’ of implementing the measures to ensure we stay at or below 1.5 degrees of warming.

One thing is crystal clear: we are at a pivotal moment, for the stability of our planet and all life on Earth, and Plantlife will keep working to show how wild plants and fungi can be at the heart of the solution.

Relevant to COP28

Why nature is an important part of the climate conversation
Blogbird standing in a field of grass

Why nature is an important part of the climate conversation

Our Global Advocacy Coordinator, Claire Rumsey, shares her experience at COP28 understanding the role of nature and Indigenous Peoples in the climate conversation.

The Importance of Grasslands Globally
Briefing Document

The Importance of Grasslands Globally

This WWF & Plantlife document makes the case for the world to recognise the vital role that grasslands and savannahs can play in addressing the climate and biodiversity crises.

Planting Plant Conservation at the Core of COP28 Climate Talks
Press Release

Planting Plant Conservation at the Core of COP28 Climate Talks

We are teaming up with WWF (the World Wide Fund for Nature) at COP28 to press for better recognition of grasslands and savannahs, alongside other habitats.

We are Heading to Dubai for Global Climate Talks
BlogPerson wearing a hat smiling

We are Heading to Dubai for Global Climate Talks

Our Global Advocacy Coordinator, Claire Rumsey, will be at COP28 to speak up for the vital role of wild plants and fungi in the fight against climate change

Wild Plants and Fungi are at the Heart of Climate Crisis
Our PositionA Marbled White butterfly sitting on a clover in a meadow

Wild Plants and Fungi are at the Heart of Climate Crisis

At Plantlife, we are focused in gaining recognition for grassland ecosystems around the world as nature-based solutions to the climate crisis. Storing between 25-35% of the world’s terrestrial carbon, they are an underutilised resource.

The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation

We are calling on governments, international institutions, NGOs, the private sector, educational organisations, indigenous peoples and local communities, universities and research organisations, farmers and individuals to take up the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation and apply the new plant actions within their own programmes, activities and lives.

Wetland with green lily pads. Forestry on the shore.
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Far too often, the world’s wild plants are relegated to a green background for more charismatic wildlife. It is time they are brought to the forefront and celebrated for the amazing value they bring to every aspect of life on earth.

We all have a part to play in helping wild plants to thrive, now and for future generations.

Why focus on plants?

We know that life on earth depends on its extraordinary diversity of plants, yet potentially 45% of all flowering plant species are threatened with extinction.

They form the basis of most terrestrial ecosystems and provide ecosystem services to support human wellbeing, including climate regulation and food security. Plants and their ecosystems have influenced our cultural and spiritual development and are woven into languages, place names, religion and folklore across the world.

What is the strategy?

Plant species and their habitats often require specific conservation actions distinct from other taxa which may be overlooked in wider biodiversity actions and the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) provides a guide to take those actions.

The new GSPC is a set of 22 Global Plant Conservation Actions that guide the implementation of the 23 Targets and 3 Goals of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KMGBF) agreed in Montreal in 2022.

The 22 Actions aim to address the conservation of all plants including wild plants, medicinal plants, and their wild relatives.

Read the ‘A new Global Strategy for Plant Conservation‘ briefing we produced for the Twenty-fifth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice.

What are the actions?

NoGlobal Plants Actions
1Identify and map plant species and Important Plant Areas to inform land use planning.
Recover degraded land using a diversity of native plants. 
Identify, protect and manage Important Plant Areas. 
4Stop the extinction of wild plants and recover threatened species. 
Maintain the genetic diversity of the plants we rely on. 
Ensure the harvest and trade of wild plants is sustainable. 
Control and monitor the impact of invasive species on native plants. 
Protect wild plants from pollution. 
Use native wild plants for climate solutions. 
Support Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities to sustainably manage the wild plants that are important to them. 
10Restore the diversity of plants important for sustainable farming, forestry and fisheries. 
11Use native species for ecosystem restoration and nature-based solutions. 
12Create plant-rich green and blue spaces in towns and cities. 
13Share the benefits of wild plant resources and knowledge fairly. 
14Integrate plant diversity into policy, planning and strategies.    
15Promote sustainable practice in the commercial use of wild plants.
16Provide information, guidance, education and research to support sustainable use and consumption of wild plants. 
17Support developing countries to benefit from safe biotechnologies and sustainable agrifood systems. 
No particular plant conservation action is required under Target 18, except to support its achievement
19Mobilise resources for plant conservation action. 
20Develop skills, capacity and partnerships for plant conservation and ecological restoration. 
21Develop public awareness, information systems and citizen science programmes to support plant conservation action. 
22Respect and safeguard the botanical knowledge and practices of indigenous people and local communities.  
23Respect women’s role as essential knowledge holders and uphold their rights to participate, make decisions and access plant resources. 

Read the full actions here: Plant conservation (cbd.int)

Read the technical rationales for the Actions here

What other UN frameworks are the actions related to?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including but not limited to:

  • Goal 15 – Life on Land
  • Goal 14- Life Below Water
  • Goal 13- Climate Action
  • Goal 12- Responsible Consumption and Production.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Action 8 is directly related to climate mitigation.

Background

Plantlife has been working with our partners over the past 20 years to make sure that plant conservation is given priority within global biodiversity agreements.

In 2002, this led to the United Nations CBD adopting a Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, which was updated 10 years later.

We helped establish the Global Partnership for Plant Conservation and coordinated the Important Plant Areas programme – an important tool for achieving the target 5 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation: to protect and manage at least 75 % of the most important areas for plant diversity of each ecological region.

Twelve years on from the last update, the Parties to the CBD adopted the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KMGBF) in December 2022. Within this framework in Decisions   and 15/13 the Conference of the Parties invited the Global Partnership for Plant Conservation (GPPC), with the support of the Secretariat, to prepare a set of complementary actions related to plant conservation to support the implementation of the KMGBF.

We were one of the GPPC members which took on the task to draft these complementary actions as an update to the GSPC. The Actions were presented at the 25th Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) in October 2023 and after feedback from Parties they were updated and the new version of the actions can be found here. There will once again be the opportunity for Parties to provide feedback at the 26th SBSTTA in May 2024 where they will be recommended for adoption at the next Conference of the Parties in 2024.

Important Plant Areas of Bolivia

Number of IPAs: 18 (and counting)

Cacti on coastal hillside

In Bolivia, 18 Tropical Important Plant Area (TIPAs) have been identified so far. These are all located within the lowland Chiquitano Dry Forest ecoregion which is the first ecoregion to be assessed. Most of the Chiquitano dry forest lies within the eastern lowlands of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, with smaller patches extending into western Mato Grosso, Brazil. 

Plant Biodiversity

Bolivia has a wide variety of ecoregions: from the highland plains in the Andes, dry Andean valleys, the llanos on the slopes of the Andes, and extensive lowland subtropical savannas and Amazon rainforest in the eastern part of the country.

This mosaic of habitats supports a wealth of rare and unique animal and plant species and has resulted in Bolivia being one of the world’s megadiverse countries with 15,345 plant species recorded for the country in the first ever census published in 2014. However, there are still vast areas of Bolivia that have never been surveyed for plant biodiversity, where many species new to science are predicted be discovered. The next ecoregion to be assessed is the Interandean Dry Valley ecoregion of Bolivia.

Threats

The Chiquitano ecoregion is severely threatened particularly by conversion of its habitats to intensive soybean and cattle farming, road construction, new settlements of highland people, as well as extensive gas and oil exploration.

Bolivia TIPA project

The Bolivia TIPAs project is a collaboration between Kew and its Bolivian partner at the Natural History Museum (MHNNKM) and the NGO Fundación Amigos de la Naturaleza, both based in Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

More than 1,200 useful wild plant species of the Chiquitano ecoregion have been documented and the main centres of diversity of these useful plants identified. These centres have been found to overlap by over 90% with the network of 18 TIPA sites making it even more important to protect the TIPA sites.

The TIPAs work has involved training courses for Bolivian stakeholders as well as establishing community businesses around sustainable harvest, production and sales of Non-Timber Forest Products such as Copaibo oil, Pesoe oil, and Chiquitano almonds. The book “Threatened Plants of lowland Bolivia” has also been launched in March 2020, which has been adopted by the national Bolivian government as the national standard for threatened lowland plants.

Further Information

Tropical Important Plant Areas in Bolivia

Project information

Tropical Important Plant Areas Explorer

Data

Important Plant Areas of South Africa

Number of IPAs: Currently being identified.

Area: 1.2 million km2

View across mountainous landscape with blue sky

South Africa is currently in the process of identifying and prioritizing Important Plants Areas across the country that require conservation intervention.

Location

South Africa is a picturesque country, with unique landscapes and extraordinary biodiversity expanding over a surface area of 1.2 million km2Deeply rooted in culture, tradition, and history, the Southernmost country in Africa is uniquely positioned. Flanked between the cold Atlantic Ocean on the west and the warm Indian Ocean on the right, its coastline expands over 3000 km from the border of Namibia on the Northwestern side of the country to Mozambique on the Eastern side.

Biodiversity

The unique climate, geography, and topography of the country, coupled with the exceptional biodiversity housed within its borders, makes South Africa, one of the world’s 17 mega-diverse countries. South Africa is home to 3 biodiversity hotspots (the Cape Floristic Region, Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany center of endemism, and the Succulent Karoo biome) and an array of ecosystems.

The country is recognized globally for its high levels of species richness and endemism, with nearly 7% of the world’s plant species, 5% of mammal species, 7% of bird species, and 4% of reptile species. 2% of amphibian species, 1% of freshwater fish species, 25% of cephalopod species, 13% of arachnid species, and 5% of butterfly species occurring within its borders.

Plant Species

South Africa has been listed among the ten countries internationally, with the highest concentration of plant species. Approximately 20,401 plant species have been documented in the country, with 25% listed as taxa of conservation concern.

With such an incredible array of botanical species, South Africa was determined to prioritize plant conservation efforts through the implementation of South Africa’s National Plant Conservation Strategy which aligns with the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.

Important Resource

Many local communities rely heavily on the country’s botanical wealth for their socio-economic well-being, through tangible benefits such as food, medicine, fuel, income, and shelter. The agricultural sector contributes greatly to the country’s economy, with the livelihoods and well-being of more than 70% of rural communities being contingent on crop farming systems. The country’s lively tourism sector is also dependent on key attractions like the Cape floristic region to bring in revenue to the country.

In order to maintain the current plant populations and ensure that future generations are able to benefit from these valuable life-sustaining resources, South Africa remains committed to finding sustainable solutions to preserve the country’s botanical heritage in a manner that still benefits all South Africans.

Further information

Geography and Climate of South Africa

Information article

National Biodiversity Assessment 2018: The status of South Africa’s ecosystems and biodiversity. Synthesis Report.

Report

Important Plant Areas of Oman

Number of IPAs:43 IPAs

IPA Area:15% of total area of Oman

Oman covers approximately 47,000km2

Rocky landscape with sparse vegetation

A network of 43 IPAs have been identified in Oman covering approximately 47,000 Km2 or around 15% of the country’s total area. Over 70% of sites qualify as IPAs by meeting threshold levels of more than one criterion.

Biodiversity

For a largely desert country Oman has a surprisingly rich and varied flora. 1400 species have been recorded from the country including 79 endemic species of which 48 have been assessed as globally threatened under IUCN Red List criteria. Several globally unique vegetation types are found here including the fog woodlands of Dhofar and the Juniper woodlands of the Western Hajar. This floristic and vegetation diversity results from factors such as Oman’s topographic heterogeneity and its position at a biogeographic crossroads.

IPA Programme

Oman’s IPA programme was developed to provide botanical data to support the countries National Spatial Strategy, a framework for growth and environmental protection over the next twenty years. Particularly important in developing the IPA assessments has been the active fieldwork programme of the Oman Botanic Garden. Over the last decade they have identified 200 newly recorded species and at least 20 species new to science vastly increasing knowledge of the country’s flora.

Threats

All IPAs sites experience some degree of threat to their vegetation. Key amongst these include development, breakdown in traditional land management practices, invasive species and climate change.

Important Plant Areas of Cameroon

Number of IPAs:49

Cameroon is situated on the Atlantic coast of West-Central Africa

Top of waterfall

49 IPAs have been identified in Cameroon. Kew is working in collaboration with the National Herbarium of Cameroon at the Institute of Research in Agronomic Development (IRAD) and the University of Yaoundé I to identify Tropical Important Plant Areas in Cameroon. Recent fieldwork has focused on Central, South and Littoral Regions and has been combined with collecting seed of threatened tree species.

Geography

Cameroon is situated on the Atlantic coast of tropical West-Central Africa. It ranges from the lush rainforests of the active volcano, Mt Cameroon (4000 m high) on the coast, parts of it with the highest rainfall in Africa, to the arid sub-Saharan bushland of the extreme north at Lake Chad.

Extra information on IPAs of Cameroon

Biodiversity

Cameroon is of major conservation importance, with high levels of biodiversity across multiple taxonomic groups. The current list of plant species exceeds 7,850, but more species are being published every year. This high biodiversity is probably partly due to the varying physical geography and range of habitats that Cameroon has, with the term “Africa in miniature” often applied. It contains coastal mangroves, tropical rainforests, semi-deciduous forests, savanna, sahel, montane cloud forests, alpine vegetation, large rivers, waterfalls and rapids, swamps, and crater lakes.

IPA sites

IPA sites range from large national parks such as Korup, Campo Ma’an, Dja, Bakossi and Mt Cameroon with hundreds of threatened species, to very small sites with just a few key taxa. The IPA sites identified incorporate around 80% of the Red List taxa in 49 sites covering around 5% of the land area. Notable sites with many threatened species but lacking official protection include Mokoko, Ngovayang, Ebo, Mt Elephant and Mt Kupe.

Some IPAs, such as Mt Bamboutos, Mt Elephant and several of the Yaoundé inselberg sites, are so critically threatened that they may not survive much longer, and their endemic species will become globally extinct.

Threats

The main threats are expansion of plantations, open-cast mining, hydro-electric dams, unsustainable logging, and above all smallholder agricultural expansion, which often follows other disturbance. Cameroon depends on its natural plant resources. Many of the national dishes derive from indigenous plant species, from ndolé (Vernonia amygdalina) to eru (Gnetum africanum) and egusi (Cucurmeropsis mannii), while fibres and traditional medicines are culturally important and timber from the forests and oil palm are major export earners.

Tropical Important Plant Areas (TIPAs) in Cameroon

Project

Vegetation Cover in Cameroon

Map of vegetation cover

Tropical Important Plant Areas Data Explorer

Data

Extra information: Important Plant Areas of Cameroon

Cameroon is of major conservation importance

Yellow trumpet shaped flower

Introduction

Cameroon is a medium-sized country in tropical West-Central Africa occupying 475,442 km2. It is of major conservation importance, with high levels of remaining biodiversity across multiple taxonomic groups. Cameroon’s flora is incompletely documented but 7850 species were enumerated in the last checklist (Onana, 2011). Many species have subsequently been described and therefore the total is now likely to be higher.

Physical geography and habitats

This wealth of diversity is probably partly explained by the widely varying physical geography and range of habitats Cameroon incorporates, with the term “Africa in miniature” often applied. It contains coastal mangroves, tropical rainforests, semi-deciduous forests, savanna, sahel, montane cloud forests, alpine vegetation, large rivers, waterfalls and rapids, swamps and crater lakes. The Cameroon Line of volcanic mountains are the tallest in West or Central Africa and help produce some of the highest rainfall in the world, as well as a wide range of altitudinal zones.

Most of Cameroon fits into the Equatorial climate zone, predominantly Koppen-Geiger types Aw (winter-dry) inland, and type Am (monsoonal) along the 100-200 km wide coastal band and in the far southeast (Beck et al., 2018; Kottek et al., 2006). The coastal band is globally important for its lowland tropical rainforests although these are partially degraded and rapidly disappearing in places.

Ecoregions

It can be divided into two ecoregions separated by the Sanaga river: the Cross-Sanaga-Bioko Coastal Forests, which reach north into Nigeria, and the Atlantic Equatorial Coastal Forests which extend southwards into Equatorial Guinea and Gabon (Olson et al., 2001). These zones together form the Congolian Coastal Forests ecoregion in the Global 200 priority classification of Olson and Dinnerstein (2002).

The high mountains of the Cameroon Volcanic line, which bisect these forests and extend to the drier northeast of the country, form the Cameroonian Highlands Forests ecoregion. Most notable of the peaks is Mt Cameroon which rises directly from the Gulf of Guinea coast to over 4000m and has been a focus for western plant collectors since the 19th century.

The Cross-Sanaga-Bioko region which incorporates much of the montane topology as well as lush lowland forest has been reported to have the highest generic and species diversity per degree square in tropical Africa (Barthlott et al. 1996; Degallier et al.,2020).

In the southeast of the country, the sparsely populated South Cameroon Plateau is dominated by semi-deciduous rainforest that appears to be more moderately diverse in plants and is home to most of of the remaining large mammal populations.

Further north, the vegetation transitions through wooded savanna to steppe, interrupted by the unique submontane forests of the Mandara mountains that have been heavily transformed by a long history of high population density and agriculture.

Overall, no less than six of the Global 200 priority ecoregions are represented in Cameroon (Olson and Dinnerstein, 1998, 2002). Cameroon’s forests also cover the transition between two biological realms, the Guinean and Congolian forest regions, while the Cameroon Highlands bring elements from the Afromontane centre of endemism (White, 1983).

Threats

Compared to other parts of Africa, such as most West African countries, Cameroon has some large areas of remaining, relatively intact vegetation. However, its forests are rapidly diminishing and certain habitats such as the submontane forests of the Bamenda highlands, have all but disappeared. In the period 2002-2020 Cameroon lost 708,000 ha (3.7%) of rainforest and 1.53 Mha (4.9%) of total tree cover (2001-2020). As a result, 903Mt of CO2e were released (Global Forest Watch, 2021). The annual rate of deforestation doubled from the 2006-2012 period to the 2013-2019 period (Vancutsem et. al 2021). Logging, mining and agro-industry (particularly palm oil) are notable threats but small-scale agriculture probably remains the major driver of forest loss and, consequently, the major threat to plant species.

The Red Data Book of Cameroon (Onana & Cheek, 2011) provisionally assessed 815 plant species as globally threatened and, as of July 2022, 848 Cameroon plant species have been formally placed on the IUCN Red List of globally threatened species (IUCN, 2022), with many other provisionally threatened species awaiting assessment. Cameroon has the highest number of threatened trees in mainland Africa (414 species constituting 21% of its tree flora), and the highest number of documented plant extinctions in mainland tropical Africa (BGCI, 2021; Humphreys et al., 2019).

Protections

The existing protected area network, although substantial is largely based on former hunting reserves and the conservation of large mammals. Rare and threatened plants are often little known at these sites, and there is little information or awareness concerning the most important sites for plants or their current state of conservation. Previous publications by scientists at Kew and in Cameroon have focused on checklists for a small number of sites plus a Red Data Book of threatened species covering the whole country. These projects have led now to an effort to demarcate the TIPAs of Cameroon.

IPA sites

The sites proposed as IPAs so far (July 2022) are largely based on criterion A(i) and incorporate around 80% of the Red List taxa in 49 sites covering around 5% of the land area. Sites are included from all geographic regions but the Southwest region is particularly strongly represented due to high phytodiversity and habitat diversity in this area, and high levels of historical recording (Onana, 2015).

Sites range from large national parks such as Korup, Campo Ma’an, Dja, Bakossi and Mt Cameroon with hundreds of threatened species, to very small sites with just a few key taxa. Notable sites with many threatened species but lacking official protection include Mokoko, Ngovayang, Ebo, Mt Elephant and Mt Kupe. Unfortunately, other areas highlighted previously as hotspots, such as Southern Bakundu Forest Reserve, have been so severely degraded that it is unclear if suitable areas remain for inclusion as IPAs. Furthermore, some included IPAs, such as Mt Bamboutos, Mt Elephant and several of the Yaoundé inselberg sites, are so critically threatened that they may not survive much longer and their endemic species may become globally extinct.

Future work

Future work will include compiling a list of socially, economically and culturally useful species for assessing sites against IPA criterion B(iii), and mapping threatened habitats to enable assessment against IPA criterion C(iii).

References

Barthlott, W., Lauer, W. and Placke, A. (1996). Global distribution of species diversity in vascular plants: towards a world map of phytodiversity. Erdkunde, 50: 317–328.

BGCI (2021). State of the World’s Trees. BGCI, Richmond, UK.

Dagallier LMJ, Janssens SB, Dauby G, Blach-Overgaard A, Mackinder BA, Droissart V, Svenning JC, Sosef MSM, Stévart T, Harris DJ, Sonké B, Wieringa JJ, Hardy OJ, Couvreur TLP (2020). Cradles and museums of generic plant diversity across tropical Africa. New Phytol. 2020 Mar;225(5):2196-2213. doi: 10.1111/nph.16293.

Global Forest Watch (2021). World Resources Institute. Accessed 01/11/2021. https://globalforestwatch.org/dashboards/country/C…

Humphreys, A.M., Govaerts, R., Ficinski, S.Z. et al. (2019). Global dataset shows geography and life form predict modern plant extinction and rediscovery. Nat Ecol Evol 3, 1043–1047. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-019-0906-2.

IUCN (2022). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2021-2. https://www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded 20/10/2021.

Olson, D. M., Dinerstein, E., Wikramanayake, E. D., Burgess, N. D., Powell, G. V. N., Underwood, E. C., D’Amico, J. A., Itoua, I., Strand, H. E., Morrison, J. C., Loucks, C. J., Allnutt, T. F., Ricketts, T. H., Kura, Y., Lamoreux, J. F., Wettengel, W. W., Hedao, P., Kassem, K. R. (2001). Terrestrial ecoregions of the world: a new map of life on Earth. Bioscience 51(11):933-938.

Olson, D.P., & Dinerstein, E. (2002). The Global 200: Priority ecoregions for global conservation. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 89, 199-224.

Onana, J.M. (2011). Vascular Plants of Cameroon: Taxonomic Checklist. In: Flore Du Cameroon, Occasional Volume, IRAD-National Herbarium of Cameroon, Yaoundé, 195.

Onana, J.M. & Cheek, M. (2011). Red Data Book: The Flowering Plants of Cameroon IUCN Global Assessments. Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Onana, J.M. (2015). The World Flora Online 2020 project: will Cameroon come up to the expectation? Rodriguésia 66(4), 961-972. DOI: 10.1590/2175-7860201566403.

Vancutsem, C., Achart, F., Pekel, J.-F., Vieilledent, G., Carboni, S., Simonetti, D., Gallego, J., Aragao, L.E.O. & Nasi, R. 2021. Long-term (1990–2019) monitoring of forest cover changes in the humid tropics. Science Advances, 7(10). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe1603.

White, F. 1983. The Vegetation of Africa. Paris: UNESCO.

 

 

Important Plant Areas of Saudi Arabia

Number of IPAs: 4

Arid rocky landscape with palm trees

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has an active programme to identify IPAs. So far full site assessments for four have been published.

Diverse flora

KSA has a relatively rich and diverse flora. So far 2250 plant species have been recorded representing four floristic regions: the Saharo-Sindian; the Somalia-Masai; the Afromontane the Mediterranean. The mixing of these diverse floristic elements reflects the past climatic history of the region with tropical elements migrating through during hotter, wetter periods and temperate elements migrating south during cooler periods – each migration leaving relic populations surviving in climatic refugia such as on mountain tops and cliffs.

This complex history gives rise to the present unique vegetation of the region where savannah-like Acacia woodlands reminiscent of tropical Africa mix with the steppe vegetation reminiscent of the great plateaus of SW and Central Asia and the forests and shrublands of the Mediterranean and where mountain refugia harbour plant relics of these past migration.

IPA habitats

The IPAs so far published reflect the great diversity of vegetation and habitats in KSA from ‘Uruq Bani Ma’arid, an iconic hyper-arid sand desert representing the largest sand sea on Earth, the only tropical sand desert in Asia and an ecological refuge for iconic wildlife of the desert. To the Farasan Islands with their mangrove woodlands and the isolated granite domes of Jabal Aja’ and the sandstone canyon of Jabal Qaraqir which provide relatively cool & moist Pleistocene refuge and harbour relict plants of Mediterranean & Irano-Turanian origin.

Schedules of several sites are being prepared including for the deep, dramatic canyon of Wadi Lajb which contains the richest and best-preserved remnant of relict valley forest in Saudi Arabia and the isolated mountains of NW KSA including Jabal al-Lawz range where snow appears regularly and the isolated massifs of the spectacular Jabal ad-Dubbagh range both providing important Pleistocene climatic refugia.

Threats

Threats to the plants and vegetation of KSA are intense over-grazing combined with very rapid economic development

Important Plant Areas of Lebanon

Number of IPAs: 26 IPAs

Snow topped mountain with tree covered grassland in foreground

Geography

Lebanon hosts a rich variety of wildlife including many rare and endemic plant species. This richness is due to the location of the country, which is at the intersection of different continents. In addition, Lebanon’s mountainous nature forms isolated areas with unique local climates.

Lebanese Flora

Around 2,790 species of vascular plants comprise the Lebanese flora, including approximately 92 national endemic species. Two floristic ensembles are recognised in the country; Mediterranean and Presteppic Mediterranean, they are represented in almost all of their vegetation levels.

Important Plant Areas

A total of 26 IPAs have been defined in Lebanon. Of these, 16 are in the Mount Lebanon range, on west facing slopes and high mountain plateaux. The remaining ten IPAs are found in the Lebanese coast, the Bekaa valley, and the Anti-Lebanon mountain range. The IPAs have been identified based on their richness in plant species as well as the presence of endemic and threatened species.

Endemic and/or threatened species are found in almost every designated IPA and most of them contain more than 10 nationally endemic species. Some sites are exceptionally rich in endemics. They include threatened endemics represented in a single IPA: Vicia canescens Labill (in Mount Makmel IPA), Chaerophyllum aurantiacum Post (Tannourine IPA), Centaurea mouterdii Wagenitz. (Rihane) and Tulipa lownei Baker (Chouf) or within more than one IPA for example: Matthiola crassifolia Boiss. et Gaill., Melissa inodora Boiss., Viola libanotica Bornm. and Iris sofarana Foster. In addition to endemics, the designated IPAs include some species that are at the edge of their distribution range such as Abies cilicica (Antoine & Kotschy) Carr found in Bcharreh-Ehden IPA.

Threats

Almost every type of habitat in Lebanon is threatened; urban expansion is invading every mountain, coast, plain, and valley. Examples of IPAs facing anthropomorphic threats include the coast (Beirut–Jiyyeh Coast and Tyre-Naqoura), dry plains (Hermel Plain), wetlands (Aammiq), riparian ecosystems (Wadi Jannah and Nahr Ed-Damour), as well as the mountains and valleys in most of the IPAs of Mount Lebanon. The expansion and intensification of agriculture, deforestation and climate change are also frequent threats to IPAs.

Further information

Important Plant Areas in Lebanon

Information booklet

Setting conservation priorities for Lebanese flora—Identification of Important Plant Areas

Research paper

IPA data

Data set

Important Plant Areas of the south-east Mediterranean Region

Find Lebanon on pages 53-57

Important Plant Areas of Israel

Number of IPAs: 15 IPAs

Israel covers an area of 20,770 km2

Inland sea

15 IPAs have been identified in Israel of which 7 have a high priority for conservation

Israeli Plant Diversity

Israel is a small country (20,770 sq km) which is about 70% desert but nevertheless very rich in plant diversity. The flora of Israel comprises 2,272 different wild species from 128 families and 775 genera. 414 of these species are threatened (critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable) on a national level and 56 are national endemics. While the number of the Red Plants of Israel is high compared with homologous countries, the number of endemic species is much lower.

The richness of the flora is due to Israel’s geographical position between Africa and Asia, where three phytogeographical regions intersect: the Mediterranean, the Irano-Turanian and the Saharo-Arabian. At this crossroads a wide range of habitats, altitudes and climates are present – where temperate species coexist alongside species from tropical, desert and xero-alpine climates. Steep geomorphological and ecological gradients rise from the sea, range over lush green arboreal mountains and descend to extreme desert around the Dead Sea, the lowest region on earth.

47.8% of the wild plants in the Mediterranean and desert regions are annuals that occupy small niches and are known for their fast speciation rate. Israel’s flora reflects these characteristics. The long co-evolution of the local flora with human culture in the Fertile Crescent yields a rich and diverse annual and antipastoral flora, well adapted to the disturbed habitats associated with human civilization.

Important Plant Area Habitats

The IPA sites encompass the following habitats: Mediterranean maquis (chaparral); Mediterranean-desert transition (for e.g. Hebron IPA); desert shrubland (Har HaNegev); extreme desert oasis (Dead Sea coast); coastal plain (Poleg), including the unique vegetation associated with the sandy habitats on Hamra soil (red sandy loam) and kurkar (calcareous sandstone); sand dunes; coastal seasonal pools; wadi beds; wetlands and swamp (Hula); springs and riparian vegetation and coastal salt marshes (Acre).

Significant species include the Israeli endemics Allium negense, Bufonia ramonensis and Ferula daniniias as well as numerous regional endemic species such as Iris atrofusca, I. vartanii, Mosheovia galilae and Rheum palaestinum.

Threats

Habitat fragmentation and urbanisation are the greatest threats to IPAs in Israel.

 

Further information

Important Plant Areas of the south and east Mediterranean region

Find Israel on pages 48-52

IPA data

Data set