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Conservationists report progress in efforts to document, preserve Kingdom’s plant wealth

TAL AL RUMMAN — The Royal Botanic Garden (RBG) is compiling a list of Jordan's threatened plant species, which will be published in January 2014.

The “Jordan Plant Red List” is meant to conserve the Kingdom's rich plant heritage, HRH Princess Basma Bint Ali, founder and president of the RBG, said.

There are roughly more than 2,500 different plant species in Jordan, some of which are locally and globally threatened, while others are only found in Jordan, the Princess said, highlighting that the red list will increase the momentum of efforts to conserve threatened plant species in Jordan.

Princess Basma made the remarks during a media tour of the RBG on Thursday, where she briefed the press about Jordan's first botanic garden, its goals and current and future projects.

"By preparing the Jordan Plant Red List, we will be able to determine the exact status of each of these species, as well as the many other native plants of Jordan," the RBG said on its website.

The RBG is also working on the National Virtual Herbarium (NVH), another initiative to document all of the Kingdom's plant species.

"The NVH represents an online resource that provides botanists and researchers with access to digitised plant samples… with the herbarium, every plant in Jordan will have a fingerprint or an identification card…," Princess Basma said.

Since the launch of the project in January this year, around 1,000 plant species have been collected and documented, according to the Princess.

She said that the NVH would also help the Kingdom preserve its right to benefit from profits of medicines or products manufactured from plants taken from Jordan.

Jordan is a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity, a legally binding international treaty that aims at the conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components, and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.

The Princess highlighted that Jordan has around 400 types of medicinal herbs, which can be used in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, underscoring that if invested properly, medicinal herbs can become a fundamental supporter of the national economy.

The RBG, founded in 2005, is located in Tal Al Rumman in Balqa Governorate to the north of Amman, overlooking King Talal Dam. The garden, which expands over two-and-a-half hills, stretches over 1,800 dunums and has more than 300 metres of elevation change within its boundaries, according to the RBG website.

While still in the early stages of development, construction and landscaping, the garden will be opening to the public soon, with the soft opening expected next year, Princess Basma said.

She added that the RBG seeks to raise Jordanians' awareness with environmental issues, while preserving the Kingdom's unique ecosystems.

"I invite Jordanians to visit the garden, to enjoy its sceneries and learn about the country's unique biological diversity," Princess Basma said.


THE JORDAN TIMES - 27, May 2012