MAIN PHYTOGENETIC RESOURCES OF QATAR AND THE MAIN THREATS
Land plant diversity in Qatar comprises 371 species belonging to 236 genera and 61 families (Qatar Biodiversity Inventory, 2003). According to the Red List of the IUCN and UNEP-WCMC and the species data base of the Qatar Biodiversity Inventory, about 26 species are currently at risk of extinction.
Hunting and uncontrolled collection of plant species has placed certain species at risk and some have even become extinct. The construction of stockyards in pasturelands has also damaged the land environment.
In some places, contamination relating to the oil and gas industry has had irreversible effects on species diversity.
STATUS OF IN-SITU AND EX-SITU CONSERVATION
The protected areas in Qatar are:
- Shahaniya Wildlife Park. This was one of the first protected areas to be established in Qatar for breeding gazelles and oryx in captivity. It covers 1 km2 and is located 40 kilometres from Doha.
- Ras Osheirij. This protected area is located in the north-west of the country, 110 km from Doha. It was created in 1991 and has a surface area of 8 km2.
- Al-Mas habiyya. This is in south-west Qatar, 120 km from Doha. It was established in 1997 and covers 8 km2.
- Khor Al-Odaid. This was declared a sanctuary in 1993. A UNESCO study considers that the Al-Odaid wetlands qualify for inclusion in the Biosphere Reserve Programme (Aspinall et. Al., 2002).
- Ras Laffan. A refuge for species of flora and fauna at risk of extinction.
- Isla Al-Safiliya. Marine Protected Area, covering 1.1 km2 and located 8 km north-east of Doha.
According to Qatar’s National Strategy for the Conservation of Biodiverstiy, there is an urgent need to safeguard the country’s plant and animal genetic resources. One of the best ways of achieving this is by setting up germplasm banks as well as seed banks, experimental field stations and sperm banks. Today one field station exists, being run by the University of Qatar.
In addition, the SCENR and Ministry for Municipal Events and Agriculture aim to cooperate to set up public parks and botanic gardens in Qatar’s main cities where local plant diversity can be exhibited and conserved. An example of this type is the Koranic Garden of Doha, promoted by the Qatar Foundation.