MAIN PHYTOGENETIC RESOURCES OF IRAN AND THE MAIN THREATS
Iran can be considered the place of origin of many of the world’s genetic resources, being the home of the original stocks of plant species of great commercial value such as wheat, and of some medicinal and aromatic plants.
About 1,900 endemic species have been described in Iran. Forests cover 12.4 million hectares, and mangrove swamps cover about 10,000 hectares along the Persian Gulf.
But the reality is that Iran is under constant pressure from desertification, erosion, excessive grazing, the loss of traditional knowledge, lack of awareness, increasing population, unsustainable levels of consumption and production, etc. These are causing irreplaceable losses of biodiversity. Coastal habitats and water resources are being polluted by oil leaks and by industrial and agricultural waste. Also, many species of fish are being endangered by overfishing.
STATUS OF IN-SITU AND EX-SITU CONSERVATION
Amongst the measures adopted to achieve Goal 2010, part of Iran’s National Strategy for Conservation of Biodiversity, is an increase in the number of protected areas and wetlands, in collaboration with international organisations (CBD, FMAM, CIP, etc.). The Protected Areas Network (PAN) is the main tool for the conservation and protection of biodiversity and nature in Iran. Today Iran has 131 protected areas, including 22 wetlands of international importance (RAMSAR sites), and 9 Biosphere Reserves, which altogether cover almost 12 million hectares, that is, 8% of the country’s surface area.
However, protected areas suffer from human pressure, especially in the most remote areas. Enforcing the regulations is difficult because of poor technical and administrative management. Iran has decided to support natural resources management programmes, with the aim of achieving sustainable use of such resources. A working group has been set up to include indigenous knowledge in legislation and intellectual property laws.
Prior to the National Strategy for the Conservation of Biodiversity, some cereal collection activities had been carried out in 1948. Some of the collected materials are still available at the Universities of Teheran and Shiraz.
By way of a national centre for coordination, in 1978 a small Germplasm Bank was set up in Karaj with assistance from the FAO, but with limited staff and laboratory equipment. The name of this establishment was changed to the Phytogenetic Resources Unit. After this was created, the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran expressed a strong commitment to conservation of genetic resources and eventually, in 1983, the Iranian National Germplasm Bank was set up with finance from the Unit for Agricultural Research, Extension and Organisational Education of the Ministry of Agriculture.
The Institute for Research on Forests and Rangelands, which covers the National Botanic Garden, is a tool for research and conservation of biodiversity and reports to the Ministry. It runs several experimental stations and botanic gardens in different parts of the country. This study includes information on six of these stations which carry out research and conservation of flora.
Other botanic gardens on which information has been collected are the Eram Botanic Garden, the Teheran University Botanic Garden and the Bagh-e-Fin Garden in Kashan.
Centers of Plant Diversity
- National Plant Gene Bank of Iran
- Research Institute of Forest and Rangelands
- Yazd Desert Plant collection
- Hamadan Medicinal Plant Collection
- Dezful Botanic Garden
- Mashad Botanic Garden
- Noshahr Botanic Garden
- Eram Botanic Garden
- Botanical Garden, University of Tehra
- Bagh-e-Fin Garden