Plant Diversity Conservation in the Buffer Zone


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IN DETAIL

THE PROJECT

The main objective of this project is to promote cooperation of scientists, NGOs and local people from the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities towards the conservation of endemic, rare and threatened plants of Cyprus found within the buffer zone, including two of the most impressive, but at the same time endangered endemic species: Tulipa cypria and Ophrys kotschyi. Conservation activities focus on the establishment, monitoring and management of two Plant Micro-Reserves. The PMRs concept, which was successfully adopted in other countries, envisages the monitoring and conservation of small land plots of great value in terms of plant richness, endemism and rarity.

The project focuses on the detailed monitoring and effective conservation of the populations of
Ophrys kotschyi and Tulipa cypria, which are found in the buffer zone, close to the villages of Mammari and Denia. In addition, a quantitative and qualitative enrichment of natural plant populations is carried out through:

  • the introduction of new individuals propagated ex situ and in situ and
  • the enhancement of the natural regeneration process.


The project actively seeks the participation of the local, marginalized communities (within and adjacent to the buffer zone) in the plant conservation effort and promotes awareness among the general public about these unique plants and the biodiversity of Cyprus in general. The success of this project, including the enhancement of broad public support for conservation of plant species, could facilitate the establishment of an islandwide network of PMRs, aiming at the conservation of the rich plant diversity of the island.

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The main actions carried out within the framework of this Project are described in detail below:

1. Carry out an inventory and determine the boundaries of the two PMRs

An inventory of the localities of the targeted species was carried out. The inventory data gained through fieldwork, literature review and interviews of key people provided valuable information for the design and implementation of effective conservation measures. It was also the basis for determining the exact boundaries of the micro-reserves, within which the long-term monitoring and conservation of targeted species took place.


2. Involve local communities in the plant conservation process

The project seeked the input of local people in nearby communities (villages of Mammari, Denia in Greek Cypriot Community and Yerolakkos in the Turkish Cypriot Community), through open-ended interviews with key informants. The knowledge gained was utilised in the conservation process and may lead to other community engagement activity, as needed. In addition, prior to defining the exact boundaries of the plant micro-reserves the opinion of local people and village authorities was sought. Also, local youth groups from both communities were encouraged to "adopt" a PMR and help with some monitoring activity and
in situ conservation measures, in a form of citizen science endeavour.


3. Establish the PMRs in the field

Based on the results of the activities described above, the plant micro-reserve boundaries were defined by the placement of signs at their borderline. Special interpretation signs were placed at the entrance of the micro-reserves. Moreover, at the nearby communities, signs were placed describing the plant micro-reserves concept, as well as the value and importance of the neighbouring micro-reserves.


4. Monitoring and on site management of the PMRs - in situ conservation of the targeted species

The proposed activities within the framework of this action ensured that the external factors, which adversely affect the targeted species, were monitored and controlled. The conservation measures aimed at reducing external and endogenous threats. Monitoring of the populations on a regular basis fulfils the requirements of such an efficient control. Monitoring is continued (after the end of the project) in order to ensure sustainability.


5. Implement ex situ conservation activities for the targeted species

Ex situ conservation of plant genetic material is recognised by the Convention on Biological Diversity and by International Bodies such as IUCN, FAO and IPBGR, as one of the most important methods for conserving wild plants. The ex situ conservation is considered as a basic component of a complete conservation strategy and is regarded as complementary to in situ conservation. The present action substantially contributes towards the effective conservation and long-term survival of the targeted taxa. This action focuses on three main ex situ conservation activities:

  • Conservation of plants in botanic gardens
  • Storage of seeds in a seed bank
  • Production of propagating material through tissue culture



6. Implement an islandwide survey to determine environmental values and the level of awareness on biodiversity conservation among Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities

An island-wide quantitative telephone survey was designed and implemented in both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to determine how people value biodiversity and conservation initiatives. The results of this survey were utilised for developing specific environmental awareness measures relating to the project and biodiversity conservation in general.


7. Promote awareness among the general public on plant diversity conservation

Taking into consideration the results of the island-wide quantitative survey, several measures were designed aiming at providing information and promoting awareness among the general public. The activities focused on the following target groups: local authorities and local people, students of local schools, local NGOs and the general public. 'Media coverage' and 'Information material' were the main activities envisaged as part of this action.


8. Organise a workshop on plant diversity conservation in Cyprus

More on the Workshop>>


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