Libya – Biodiversity conservation data

    MAIN PHYTOGENETIC RESOURCES OF LIBYA AND THE MAIN THREATS

    The country’s vascular flora comprises 1,750 species of 744 genera and 118 families (Qaisar and El Gadi, 1994). Analysis shows that there are 4 main families represented by over 100 species each, namely, Asteraceae, with 237 species, Poaceae, with 233 species, Fabaceae with 208 species and Brassicaceae with almost 100 species. The other main families with 50-100 species each are Abiaceae, Chenopodiaceae, Lariaceae and Boraginaceae. Other families represented by less than 50 species each include Liliaceae (40 species), Scrophylariaceae (35 species), Euphorbiaceae (32 species), Ramnculaceae (28 species), Rubiaceae (28 species), Geraniaceae (24 species), Cistaceae (23 species) and Solanaceae (20 species).

    There is a fairly low level of endemism in Libya, because only about 75 taxons (4%) are endemic. The areas of Jabal Al Akhdar, the Coastal Strip, the central part of the Sahara and the south of Libya including Jabal Al Awaynat, Tibesti and the Ghat Plateau (Qaisar and El Gadi), are home to 50% of the country’s endemic species.

    Forests are to be found in the area of Jabal Al Akhdar in the north-east, comprising the following: moist forest, with Quercus calliprinos, Laurus nobilis, Arbutus pavarii, Olea europaea, Ceratonia siliqua, Quercus coccifera, Cupressus sempervirens; secondary moist forest, with Juniper phoenicea, Pinus halepensis, Olea europaea y Arbutus pavarii; forests in semi-arid regions, with Sarcopoterrium spinosium, Pinus halepensis, Juniper phoenicae, Pistacia lentiscus, Rhus tripartitum, Periploca laevigata; and forests to the south of Jabal Al Akhdar, with Rhus tripartitum, Pistacia lentiscus, Periploca laevigata.

    There is very good documentation on medicinal flora (El Gadi and Bshaina, 1992; Kotb, 1985). The most important species are: Achillea Santolina, Ajuga iva, Alhagi maurorum, Andrcymbium gramineum, Artemisia arborescens, Artemisia herba-alba, Calotropis procera, Capparis spinosa, Citrullus colocynthus, cuscuta planiflora, Cymbopogon schoenanthus, Cynomorium coccineum, Datura stramonium, Efedra alata, Globularia alypum, Hyoscyamus albus, Juniperus phoenicea, Marrubium vulgare, Myrtus communis, Peganum harmala, Ricinus communis, Rosmarinus officinalis, Ruta graveolens, Salvia officinalis, Teucrium polium, Thymus capitatus, Urginea maritima, Urtica urens, Withania somnifera and Ziziphus lotus.

    The plants that are most used locally for ornamental purposes are Astragalus sp., Ceratonia siliqua, Cistus sp. Colchicum ritchii, Dianthus barbatus, Iris germanica, Ocimum basilicum, Pelargonium odoratissimum, Retama reteam, Rosa Gallica, Rosmarinus officinalis and Salvia officinalis.

    Forestry legislation is not always enforced. As a result, many of the country’s forests have suffered extreme degradation, mostly because of poor administration, with people using forests indiscriminately as a source of firewood or for farming. The rate of destruction has been speeded up by the introduction of mechanisation. Many native species, such as cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), pine (Pinus halepensis), oak (Quercus coccifera and Quercus ilex), and pistachio (Pistacia atlantica) are in danger of extinction.

    STATUS OF IN-SITU AND EX-SITU CONSERVATION

    In-situ conservation

    Conservation activities began in Libya in 1956 with the creation of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Forestry Department. This was very active in projects aiming to control desertification, fix sand dunes and create parks and reserves. The following table lists protected areas in Libya with their size and location.

    Parks and Reserves

    Surface area (ha)

    Location

    Bir Ayad Reserve

    12,000

    150 km south-west of Trípoli

    Hiesha Jadida Reserve

    100,000

    300 km east of Trípoli

    Abu Ghilan Park

    4,500

    60 km south of Trípoli

    Surman Park

    1,450

    51 km west of Trípoli

    Gharabouli Park

    8,500

    60 km east of Trípoli

    Wadi El- Kouf Park

    8,000

    1.200 km east of Trípoli

    Total

    134,450 ha

    Source: Khatabi, K. (1993)

    Ex-situ conservation

    Although there are no national germplasm collections in Libya, germplasm has been collected since 1960 in collaboration with ICARDA, IBPGR and international institutions in western countries (Istituto del Germoplasma in Bari, Italy and CSIRO, Australia).

    The country has no facilities for storage and all the germplasm available at the Agricultural Research Centre is maintained by propagation and cyclical regeneration. Some duplicates of the collected material are conserved in international germplasm banks, such as those at the ICARDA in Syria, the Istituto del Germoplasma in Bari, Italy and CSIRO in Australia. Today, over 5,000 items are kept by the Agricultural Research Centre in glass bottles and paper bags at room temperature without any system for moisture control. Great efforts are being made by the Centre to keep these items. There is therefore a great need for a germplasm bank to preserve the current stock of genetic resources and to provide a good source of seeds for research activities..

    For the study of vegetative reproduction, mostly fruit trees, there are small plots in research stations associated with the Centre. It seems that Libya’s main research centre is the Sidi Mesri Research Centre.

    At present there seems to be no Botanic Garden in Libya. However, the Botany Department in the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Al Fateh has a good herbarium.

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