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Plant Sociology numero 54 (2) S1

pag. 101-110: Active management actions for the conservation of the endangered Mediterranean island flora: the CARE-MEDIFLORA project

G. Fenu1, G. Giusso del Galdo2, B. Montmollin de3, P. Gotsiou4, D. Cogoni1,5, C. Piazza6, C. Fournaraki4, A.C.  Kyratzis7, M. Vicens8, C.S. Christodoulou9, G. Bacchetta1,5

1Centre for the Conservation of Biodiversity (CCB), Life and Environmental Sciences Department, University of Cagliari, Viale S. Ignazio da Laconi 11-13, 09123 Cagliari, Italy.

2Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, University of Catania, Italy.

3Mediterranean Plant Specialist Group (IUCN/SSC).

4CIHEAM Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICh), Greece.

5Hortus Botanicus Karalitanus (HBK), University of Cagliari, Italy.

6Office de l’Environnement de la Corse (OEC), France.

7Agricultural Research Institute, Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, Nicosia, Cyprus.

8Jardí Botànic de Sóller Foundation (JBS), Spain.

9Department of Forests, Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, Nicosia, Cyprus.

doi: 10.7338/pls2017542S1/10

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abstract

The Mediterranean Basin is one of the world’s most biodiverse regions and it roughly counts 30,000 different plant taxa, of which approximately 50% are endemic taxa to the region. Thus, this area has been recognized among the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots. Furthermore, the rate of endemism of the big Mediterranean islands is higher than that usually recorded in the neighbouring mainland areas. Plants are vulnerable to many threats mainly represented by physical factors, such as climate change, extreme weather events, recurrent fires, agriculture, as well as by biological factors, such as invasive species and pests. All these factors are particularly worrying in island ecosystems where urban sprawl and human activities may represent a major source of threat hampering the preservation of important habitats and plant species, especially when circumscribed to small areas. In addition, less than 10% of these areas is protected (e.g. nature reserves, regional or national parks, etc.) and, likely most worrying, their management is not always based on the specific scientifically based plant needs. Given these circumstances, many plant species of the Mediterranean area are facing the risk of a severe decline and require urgent protection measures. While in-situ conservation is the fundamental approach to biodiversity conservation, ex-situ conservation is an alternative and effective way to prevent immediate extinction. The CARE-MEDIFLORA project, an initiative of eigh institutions all having a long experience in plant conservation, will make a step forward by using ex situ collections to experiment with in situ active management actions and measures for some taxa within the period of three years of the project. The involved institutions will jointly work to address both short-term and long-term needs, including: (1) in situ conservation for some of the most endangered plant species of the Mediterranean islands through active management actions (e.g. reintroduction, reinforcement, fencing, etc.), in collaboration with the most relevant local authorities to ensure the sustainability of the results; (2) ex situ conservation of the most endangered plant species of the Mediterranean islands through the collection and seed banking of accessions that will be representative of the overall diversity of the selected taxa; (3) establishing a network connecting scientific institutions from the Mediterranean islands in order to ensure the circulation of information, knowledge and project results sustainability. In addition, great efforts will be devoted to the training of conservation plant specialists, in order to increase collaboration among institutions dealing with in situ and ex situ conservation and to increase awareness about the vulnerability of the native flora through the involvement of local stakeholders and environment-related agencies.

keywords

alien species eradication, ex situ conservation, fence erection, in situ conservation, Mediterranean islands, plant translocations, seed banking, threatened Mediterranean flora