MAIN PHYTOGENETIC RESOURCES OF KUWAIT AND THE MAIN THREATS
The native flora comprises sparse coverage of low-growth shrubs and pastures, the main plants being a combination of hardy annuals and perennials (Halwagy and Halwagy, 1974a, b, Halwagy et al., 1982). Boulos and Al-Dousari (1994) identified 374 species belonging to 55 families of vascular plants in Kuwait. Some of the most representative are Haloxylon salicornicum, Rhanterium epapposum, Cyperus congolmoratus, Zygophyllum qatarense, Panicum turgidum, Stipagrostis plumosa, Moltikiopsis ciliata, Plantago boissierii, Schimpera arabica, Arnebia decumbens and Astragalus sp.
Plant biodiversity in Kuwait has been damaged over recent decades because of large-scale destruction of land. Zaman (1998) stated that desert plant species are more vulnerable to changing habitats.
STATUS OF IN-SITU AND EX-SITU CONSERVATION
Perhaps the largest terrestrial ecosystem to date that has been designated a protected area in Kuwait (1995) is in the north-west, and is known as the Kuwait Nature Reserve. This park is 330 kilometres long and stretches from Um-Alaish in Kuwait Bay to Hoban and Medirah. It is an important source of plant diversity for the country. The predominant vegetation is Rhanterium, Haloxylon, Halocnemon, Seidlitzia, Nitraria, and Zygophyllum.
In 1979, the Sulaibiya Field Station (SFS) was set up on 20 km2 in Kabd (south-west Kuwait). This is a zone for research and conservation of Rhanterium / Cyperus.
The Kuwaiti Institute for Scientific Research is a state research centre run by the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fishing and its main function is agricultural research. It has three divisions: Environment and Earth Science, Water Resources, and Biological Resources and Food. The Institute is a coordinating body for genetic engineering, tissue cultivation and research and planning related to biological diversity conservation. It has a germplasm bank of native plant material (2003).
Kuwait University (KU) has also carried out activities relating to the conservation of plant diversity, and houses a herbarium and a Science Museum. The university collaborates with these two facilities and provides technical training for the development of strategic programmes and national plans of action in the field of biodiversity conservation.