QF’s QBG webinar discusses challenges to conservation of ecosystems Sep 01, 2020 0 773 12345 Tribune NEWS NETWORKDohaTHE Qur’anic Botanic Garden (QBG) has hosted a highly informative online discussion titled ‘Challenges Facing the Flora and Ecosystems of the Arabian Peninsula and Immediate Actions Required’. The webinar was moderated by Ahmed ElGharib, QBG assistant researcher, and featured several experts in the field. Discussion topics included biodiversity, protection of endangered species, socioeconomics and plant conservation, restoration projects, and potential medicinal plants and their uses. A series of case studies were also presented, relating to the objectives of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation 2020, a programme of the Convention on Biological Diversity agreed by Qatar and 195 other governments around the world.In addition to a wide-ranging discussion, the webinar witnessed the revival of the Arabian Plant Species Specialist Group (APSG), a body established in 1996 and the first of its kind to have a geographical rather than taxonomic coverage. Its members include the countries of the Arabian Peninsula, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq. The APSG aims to bring together interested parties to agree on standards and protocols for individual countries, so that that they can meet targets for the conservation and preservation of their plant species. The APSG will help botanists facilitate knowledge transfer and collaborations, and effectively execute conversation projects regionally. Dr Jon Paul Rodriguez, chair, IUCN Species Survival Commission, said: “Fifty percent of all members of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) live in only 10 countries, none of which are in West Asia. In fact, the West Asia region has the least SSC members. The revival of the APSG is an important step in the direction of rectifying this. In close collaboration with our partners in the region, we expect it to be a major milestone in SSC’s efforts to continue strengthening species conservation in the Middle East. I look forward to working together in identifying other experts wishing to join SSC and create specialist groups focused on individual countries and the region as a whole.”Dr Thuraya Said, chairperson, APSG, said: “In the Arab region, although the value of plant ecosystems and their importance in contributing to the overall development of the ecosystem, environment, economy and food security is recognised, there are still issues related to the conservation of plant species. It is necessary to continue improving and promoting the sustainable use and conservation of plants and their habitats among policymakers and the public. This can be done by endorsing viable conservation programmes and policies and the enhanced use of plant diversity that is aligned with the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.”Ms Fatima Al Khulaifi, director, QBG, said: “QBG regularly hosts events, seminars, workshops, and exhibitions that bring the public together with well-respected environmental experts. In line with this, we’ve gathered experts from Oman, Jordan, the UK, and Qatar to share their expertise with each other, as well as the wider community, which helps raise awareness on the diverse range of plant species in the Arabian peninsula and their uses in traditional medicine, as well as the indispensable role that QBG plays in the preservation of plant species in Qatar, and those mentioned in the Holy Qur’an and Hadith.“Currently, QBG is also holding a competition for the best herbarium on social media. All this, in addition to our goal of planting 2,022 trees as we edge closer to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, is part of QBG’s efforts to be active contributors towards Qatar National Vision 2030 and help create a more environmentally-conscious public. We also hold environmental campaigns and programmes, such as our upcoming ‘Fun and Learn’ programme in September, which will teach primary school students in Qatar about plant life and the environment”, she added.Additionally, in a bid to support the Environmental Development pillar of Qatar National Vision 2030, protect ecosystems and empower community members to be active contributors to these efforts, QBG recently launched its free-of-charge ‘Home Garden Phone Helpline’. The initiative enables the public to pose any home gardening questions directly to QBG experts by calling 3091 8519 every Monday from 9am to 2:30pm, and every Wednesday from 12:30pm to 2:30pm. 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